Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said that more than 8 lakh 14 thousand Indians stranded abroad have returned to the country through various means under Vande Bharat Mission since May 6, 2020. He said, out of these, at least 2 lakh 70 thousand people returned on flights from 53 countries.
In a series of tweets, Hardeep Singh Puri said the fifth Phase of Vande Bharat Mission will begin from August 1 to bring back more stranded Indians. Under the fifth phase, Air India will connect Indian cities with US, Canada, Qatar, Oman, UAE, Singapore, UK, Frankfurt, Paris, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, New Zealand and Philippines among others. Mr Puri said details about ticket bookings will be announced by Air India shortly.
External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said during the fourth phase of Vande Bharat Mission, India has operated 1,197 flights which includes 945 international flights and 252 feeder flights.
Air travel in India, both domestic and international was suspended when the national lockdown started on March 25 due to a coronavirus pandemic. Only domestic air travel began on May 25.