New Delhi: Over 11.2 lakh Indians have returned from abroad after the government launched the “Vande Bharat” evacuation mission on May 7 in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the ministry of external affairs said on Thursday.
Ministry of external affairs spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said the bilateral air bubbles arrangements with the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, th eUAE, Qatar and Maldives are functioning well.
An air bubble is a bilateral arrangement with a set of regulations and restrictions in which the carriers of the two countries can operate international flights.
Referring to an announcement by the Minister of Civil Aviation earlier this week, Srivastava said negotiations on air travel arrangements with 18 more countries — Australia, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Nigeria, Bahrain, Israel, Kenya, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka — are ongoing.
This will benefit stranded Indians and nationals of these countries, he said at an online briefing.
“As on August 19, 2020, 11.23 lakh Indians stranded abroad have been repatriated by different modes under the Vande Bharat Mission,” Srivastava said.
In the ongoing Phase 5 of the Vande Bharat Mission, around 500 international flights and 130 domestic feeders have been operated so far from 22 different countries and reaching 23 airports across India, he said.
Around 375 more international flights are scheduled to be operated by the end of August 2020, he added.
“Based on a continuous assessment of demand received from our Missions, Posts abroad, flights have been added for repatriation from Kuwait, Maldives, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Australia, thr UK and Canada. In addition, number of flights from other GCC countries have been further augmented,” he said.