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Vande Bharat Mission: Third phase to be the biggest, Air India to accept booking from June 5

The national carrier alone is operating over 200 flights

June 04, 2020 / 02:13 PM IST
Representational image

Representational image

The third phase of the Vande Bharat Mission will be the largest, with Air India operating 203 flights out of India, an updated schedule from the national airline showed.

The third phase will start on June 10 and last till July 1.

The schedule also has 356 flights, which include the return services and domestic connections. "All domestic flights mentioned in schedule below are meant for international connecting passengers departing and arriving on the Air India evacuation flights," the airline said in the schedule.

The second phase, in comparison, had about 180 flights and the first, which last from May 7 to May 15, had 64 flights. While the first phase saw about 15,000 Indians coming back home, the second phase had brought back about 30,000 citizens till May 29.

The Mission said to be the largest repatriation exercise in the world, intends to bring back over two lakh Indians stranded across the world since the lockdown was announced in March. The government had suspended domestic and international flights as part of the lockdown.

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While domestic flights resumed on May 25, the government is yet to announce a date for international services. Earlier, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said that the government intends to open up international operations much before August-September.

Air India has said bookings for the third phase begin from June 5, 'tentatively' at 5 pm.

More destinations

Just like in the second phase, the third part of the exercise will have additional new destinations. These include Helsinki, Johannesburg, Phnom Penh and Shanghai.

While it's not clear how many Indians will be brought back in the third phase, the government aims to reach the one-lakh milestone by June 13.

Focus is also on Indians stranded in London, which will see five flights between June 18 and 23,  flying about 1,200 Indians. Similarly, 75 flights will be to destinations in the US  and Canada, and these will include New York,  Chicago, Vancouver and Toronto.

Apart from Air India, its unit Air India Express will also have a separate schedule for its operations. It mainly connects destinations in the Middle-East.

Also, the country's largest airline IndiGo had earlier announced that it will operate 97 flights, all from Kerala to destinations in the Middle-East. The airline is the only private carrier involved in the mission until now.

It is, however, not clear when IndiGo plans to operate these flights.
Prince Mathews Thomas heads the corporate bureau of Moneycontrol. He has been covering the business world for 16 years, having worked in The Hindu Business Line, Forbes India, Dow Jones Newswires, The Economic Times, Business Standard and The Week. A Chevening scholar, Prince has also authored The Consolidators, a book on second generation entrepreneurs.
first published: Jun 4, 2020 02:02 pm

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