Tribune News Service
New Delhi, August 17
Minister for Civil Aviation Hardeep Singh Puri on Monday announced that the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) – 5 would dovetail to its sixth version from September 1, which will continue till October 24. This will see operations of additional flights connecting several of the un-served destinations.
The mission is currently in its fifth phase which will continue until August 31.
The Aviation Minister said that Phase 6 of the repatriation exercise would begin thereafter.
“More flights and destinations being added to VBM to further widen the geographic reach of the mission in its current phase and in Phase - 6 from September 1 to October 24, 2020. Our endeavour is to reach out to every stranded and distressed Indian citizen around the world,” he said.
As per the plan, Air India will operate over 145 flights between India and the USA during the VBM – 6 period and destinations will be added to further widen the geographic reach.
While India has not resumed the international commercial operation of flights due to rising cases of Covid-19 and other restrictions, it has initiated bilateral arrangements through travel bubbles with many countries, including the USA, France, and Germany.
According to the Civil Aviation Ministry, 3,644 repatriation flights were operated by the Air India group under the Vande Bharat Mission till August 15, carrying over 4.82 lakh passengers. Of these, 1,825 were inbound flights carrying 3,36,436 passengers and 1,819 outbound flights with 1,46,052 fliers.
Meanwhile, officials said that India had established air bubbles with the US, Canada, Qatar, Oman, the UAE, Singapore, the UK, Frankfurt, Paris, Saudi Arabia, New Zealand, Philippines and more countries would be added to the list.
A few more airlines have joined the US-India air travel bubble corridor along with national carrier Air India and United Airlines flights.
Emirates Airlines and Lufthansa flights have already started its operation under the VBM Phase – 6, giving travelers more options between India and the USA.
Sources said that Virgin Atlantic will also begin operation in September.
British carrier Virgin Atlantic is planning to launch three flights a week from Delhi to London from September 2, while Mumbai services will start from September 17 with four flights per week.
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