Dubai: India has announced 44 more repatriation flights from the UAE to the state of Kerala and one to the state of Odisha that will operate from June 19 to 30.
The Ministry of External Affairs published the updated schedule days after announcing only 25 repatriation flights from June 9 to 23, of which ten were scheduled to Kerala.
Gulf News had reported that the number of flights was reduced in the revised schedule announced on Saturday.
'Expecting more flights'
Indian Ambassador to the UAE, Pavan Kapoor, told Gulf News on Tuesday that the missions here would continue to work with the Indian government to increase the number of repatriation flights.
“We were expecting some more flights in this phase and we are glad that more flights have been announced so that we can increase the speed at which people who want to go back home can fly,” said Kapoor.
“On our part, we are working with the government of India to get more flights, especially to other states as well,” he added.
Officials had already explained that the approval from the state governments is one of the key factors in scheduling repatriation flights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Readiness of state governments
The readiness of the state governments in receiving the returning expats and arranging quarantine measures for them play big roles in granting their approvals.
Population-wise and in terms of the number of stranded Indians registered to fly back home from the UAE, Malayalis outnumber Indian expats from other states.
The Kerala government, which had put in place several measures to receive the returning expats, has been the first to approve a high number of repatriation flights and has also approved several chartered flights to fly home stranded Malayalis from the UAE.
However, the non-response from many other state governments has made the situation tougher for stranded Indians from those states.
Thousands of them have been appealing for flights to return home due to various reasons. People from states like Maharashtra and West Bengal have been running online campaigns also to get approval for flights to their states.
The ambassador said the first-ever repatriation flight to Mumbai would be from Abu Dhabi on June 11.
“It has already been filled up. We were hoping to get a flight to Kolkata also in this schedule. We hope that will happen soon.”
He said the missions hope to have more flights than the already announced 70 this month itself.
Chartered flights being organised by corporate companies and community organisations are also expected to help more stranded Indians in the UAE to fly back home soon.
58 more flights added
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri on Tuesday said that 58 more flights have been added to evacuate stranded Indians from Gulf countries between now and 30th June.
"58 more flights added to evacuate stranded & distressed Indian citizens from Gulf countries between now & 30th June 2020. Starting immediately, number of flights from Gulf under phase-3 of Vande Bharat Mission now increased from originally planned 107 to 165," Puri tweeted.
Earlier he said that India has so far brought back nearly 70,000 people under the Vande Bharat Mission launched to evacuate Indians from abroad.
The third phase of the exercise will begin from June 11 and continue till June 30.
- With inputs from ANI