Vande Bharat Mission in phase 3 may rope private airlines, talks on


NEW DELHI, MAY 21:The third phase of Vande Bharat Mission, India’s massive programme to repatriate nationals stranded across the globe due to the Covid-19 crisis, is expected to involve private airlines to increase the number of flights.The third phase is set to begin after June 13, when the second phase will end. India is bringing back about 32,000 citizens on more than 160 flights from 47 countries during the second phase, which began on May 16.
“There will be a third phase of repatriation. The second phase will last till June 13,” external affairs ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava told an online news briefing
“We are very receptive to the idea [of involving private airlines] and the ministry of civil aviation is already in discussions with private airlines to see how they can be included under the Vande Bharat Mission so that we can increase the number of flights,” he said
All flights in the first two phases were being operated by state-run Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express. The government has also used air force transport aircraft and naval warships to repatriate nationals from some countriesAs of Thursday, a total of 3,475 Indians have been repatriated under Vande Bharat Mission. They include 4,883 workers, 4,196 students and 3,087 professionals.The second phase has included destinations such as Istanbul, Ho Chi Minh City and Lagos, and increased flights to the US and Europe. “We are also looking at developing Frankfurt as a hub [for Europe],” Srivastava said.
Several flights from other countries, coming in to evacuate nationals of those countries, have ferried stranded Indians. A flight from Buenos Aires that arrived on Thursday morning carried.

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