Dubai: India on Tuesday approved 26 more repatriation flights from the UAE for the fifth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) beginning on August 1.
This will take the total number of VBM flights by Air India and Air India Express to 149, which can fly home more than 26,000 stranded Indians from the UAE between August 1 and 15, sources told Gulf News.
However, two big questions remain to be answered. When will the India-UAE flights resume and will these new flights bring back UAE residents stuck in India on the departure leg of repatriation flights ?
UAE residents stuck back in India are eagerly waiting to know when the governments will resume the air travel corridor to bring them back here after the special flight agreement for 15 days ended on Sunday.
Sources told Gulf News that discussions are on between the authorities of both the countries to find a solution to bring UAE residents back from India.
When contacted, the Indian Ambassador to the UAE Pavan Kapoor told Gulf News that he was hopeful the service would be resumed soon.
“It will happen soon. Just be patient,” he said.
As per the agreement announced by the Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation on July 9, UAE residents stuck in India could return on the departure leg of repatriation flights under VBM that flew home stranded Indians in the UAE from July 12 to 26.
They could also fly back on the return leg of the journey by UAE carriers and private airlines from India providing chartered services for repatriating stranded Indian expatriates during the 15 days of the special agreement.
However, there was no official announcement about the extension of the agreement that ended on Sunday to airlines due to which they were unable to sell tickets or fly UAE residents from India.
The Indian Consulate in Dubai said the status quo remains with regard to approval for both VBM flights and charter repatriation services by UAE carriers and private airlines from India.
“We are issuing NOCs (No Objection Certificates) as usual for all repatriation flight requests. We have approved more than 60 charter requests by UAE carriers from July 29 onwards,” a spokesperson said.