India’s massive evacuation programme triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic has brought back over 6.7 million from abroad. In a tweet, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said: “It is not just a mission that brought back stranded & distressed citizens from around the world, but Vande Bharat has been a Mission of hope & happiness; of letting people know that they will not be left behind even in the most testing times.”
“67.6 lakh& continuing to grow……” India had commenced one of the world’s largest evacuation operations from May 7, 2020 to bring back its stranded citizens from abroad following shutting down of global travel as the Covid pandemic spread.
The plan had originally envisaged to bring back more than 1,90,000 Indian nationals. Initially, Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express played a key role in the operations. Afterwards, other air carriers were allowed to take part in the programme. Besides, aerial evacuation, even naval ships were used to bring back Indian citizens.
Resurgence of Covid-19 infections pulled India’s domestic air passenger traffic lower by over 36 per cent in February on a year-on-year basis.
According to the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), passengers ferried by domestic airlines during February declined to 78.27 lakh as against over 123.68 lakh for the corresponding period of the previous year.
“Passengers carried by domestic airlines during Jan-Feb 2021 were 155.61 lakh as against 251.50 lakh during the corresponding period of previous year, thereby registering annual growth of (-) 38.13 per cent and monthly growth of (-) 36.71 per cent,” the DGCA data said.
Almost all airlines saw a growth in passenger load factor in October as compared to previous month, barring Pawan Hans.
“The passenger load factor in the month of February 2021 has shown an increasing trend compared to the previous month primarily due to the beginning of tourist season.”