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Volume IconWhat is Vande Bharat mission?

Last week, an Air India plane, under the Vande Bharat Mission, evacuated 240 Indians before the Ukrainian airspace was shut for air traffic. Here's what you should know about Vande Bharat Mission

Vande Bharat mission

On February 18th, Air India announced that it would operate three flights between India and Ukraine on 22nd, 24th and 26th under the Vande Bharat Mission to help Indian citizens fly back home.

The second special Air India flight turned back mid-air in the morning hours of February 24 after Ukraine closed its airspace due to Russian invasion. 

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While the government is devising alternate plans to evacuate Indians stranded in Ukraine, let us take a look at the Vande Bharat Mission.

Immediately after the outbreak of Coronavirus in 2020, India’s aviation regulator, The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), had suspended all commercial international flights in March of that year. This restriction has been extended till February 28, 2022. Most of the other countries had also suspended the flights to check the disease.

However, a large number of requests were received from Indian nationals abroad for repatriation. In response, the government had commenced operation under the Vande Bharat Mission on May 7, 2020 to facilitate return of stranded Indian nationals abroad in a phased manner.

The Vande Bharat Mission is considered one of the largest civilian repatriation exercises by any country in recent history. Although Air India exclusively operated the flights, the mission was soon extended to private carriers from the fourth phase.

During the pandemic, the mission also facilitated travel of passengers between India and various parts of the world.

The operations under Vande Bharat Mission were commercial operations by the airlines and air fares were paid by passengers. The Centre has not provided any subsidy or grant for the mission.

84 flights were operated in the first phase that lasted 11 days till May 17, 2020. The mission is currently in its 16th phase. 

As on 31st October 2021, more than 2.17 lakh flights have been operated under Vande Bharat Mission and over 1.83 crore passengers have been facilitated.

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First Published: Feb 28 2022 | 8:45 AM IST

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