The fourth phase of Vande Bharat mission to repatriate Indians across the globe amid the coronavirus pandemic begins on Friday. A total of nine flights will bring back Indians from Canada in the mission’s fourth phase.
In the third phase of the mission, which concluded in June end, several flights were not fully occupied for various reasons including reluctance among some to return at a time when Covid-19 cases are on the rise in India.
According to High Commissioner of India to Canada Ajay Bisaria, nearly 5,000 Indians who were stranded in Canada due to the virus outbreak have returned home on 27 repatriation flights from Canada operated by Air India.
Approximately 6,000 more are registered in the High Commission’s database for return flights that are expected to fly between 1000 and 1500 passengers back. Priority is still being given to those with “compelling reasons” to return to India.
Seven of the flights that will leave Canada in the first half of July will be from Toronto, while the remaining two will depart from Vancouver. Each of these flights will fly citizens back to Delhi as it’s the hub for the repatriation exercise. The passengers will travel onwards to other cities – Hyderabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Chennai and Kochi.
Some of the flights during the previous phase of the Mission left Canada with occupancy at less than 50% of the capacity of the aircraft deployed. Officials cited several reasons including “reluctance” among some to return to India amid a surge of coronavirus cases. Institutional quarantine measures returnees have to follow and the expenses involved were among the other reasons why repatriating flights weren’t fully occupied. Therefore, many are chary of returning on flights which conclude in Delhi and are waiting to fly back in those flights that have destinations elsewhere in the country that are more convenient.
While the bookings will have to be done directly with the carrier, potential passengers need to be registered with the High Commission.
The flights bound for Canada will also be open for Canadians to return home as was the case with the previous phases.