Indian airline company IndiGo announced on Thursday that it will operate 97 repatriation flights between Kerala and four Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman.
The carrier will operate 36 flights to Saudi Arabia, 28 to Qatar, 23 to Kuwait and 10 to Oman.
The Civil Aviation Ministry on Wednesday decided to allow private carriers to bring back Indians stranded abroad.
This is a significant decision as the government had pressed flights of the national carrier Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express into service to bring back Indians in foreign countries so far under the Vande Bharat mission.
IndiGo has been granted nearly half of the total 180 repatriation flights allotted to private airlines, the budget carrier said.
Ronojoy Dutta, Chief Executive Officer, IndiGo, said "We are grateful for the approval to operate flights to four countries to bring back our fellow citizens, who are either stranded due to suspension of operations or have registered to fly back owing to the economic landscape."
The mission, which began on May 7, brought 23,47 Indians from different parts of the world till Thursday.
The repatriation mission is expected to gather pace with the induction of private carriers into service.
Keralites to benefit
The decision to allow private carries will be a huge blessing for thousands of Keralites stranded in Gulf countries. Around 2.5 million Keralites work in six GCC countries.
Plenty of expatriates had raised complaints about passenger selection under the Vande Bhrat repatriation mission.
Meanwhile, the government said that the ongoing second phase of the Vande Bharat mission will continue till June 13 and the extended phase will cover 47 countries.
On landing in India, these travellers have a 14-day quarantine requirement at venues organised by the respective state governments
2,59,001 people registered to return to India from 98 countries.