Private airlines like Indigo, SpiceJet and Vistara will soon be in the sky to bring home Indians stranded abroad under the Vande Bharat Mission. The passengers would be brought at the same cost being offered by Air India and AI Express flights during the first two phases of the repatriation mission.
A meeting between Aviation Secretary Pradeep Singh Kharola and private airlines took place via video-conferencing. In the meeting the Aviation Secretary asked airlines if they would be willing to participate in the Vande Bharat Mission. All airlines showed their willingness to be a part of the initiative. Ronojoy Dutta, CEO, IndiGo, said: “We are pleased to continue our efforts towards repatriation efforts of the Indian government.
Our flights aided in the transfer of 202 Vietnamese citizens from Bangalore, Pune and Gaya to Delhi to board their return flight to Vietnam. The Charter was initiated in coordination with the Vietnam Embassy and the Indian government. We would like to extend our gratitude to the government for allowing IndiGo to operate these repatriation flights, which contributed to the safe return of stranded Vietnam Nationals to their homes. We will continue to contribute to the country in every way possible in these trying times.”
SpiceJet CMD Ajay Singh said, “We will be very happy to participate in the Vande Bharat Mission if the government asks us to repatriate Indians from abroad. SpiceJet has been extending all possible assistance and will continue to do so to the best of its ability in these very difficult times.” It will be a huge respite for private domestic airlines, which are struggling with finances due to grounding since March. Such repatriation flights, where passengers are charged for travel, will provide revenues to these airlines.
Air India and AI Express have already flown back thousands of Indians from the Gulf, North America, Europe, South-East Asia and Australia under the Vande Bharat Mission that started on 7 May. Lakhs of Indians still have to be flown back to their country, with a vast majority from the Gulf, which IndiGo, SpiceJet and Vistara have on their networks. Sources in the Civil Aviation Ministry said that it is necessary for airlines to take permission from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation before every such flight.
Since flights are unscheduled, airlines will have to take approvals for those flights. Modalities of the participation of private domestic airlines in one of the largest evacuation missions will be finalised soon.