27 July, 2021

‘Airlines Can’t Operate On Free Tickets’

Photograph by Jitender Gupta
‘Airlines Can’t Operate On Free Tickets’

Vande Bharat Mission is one of the largest government operations to get back Indians stranded abroad due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Union civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri spoke to Preetha Nair about the logistical challenges involved in the evacuation and the plans ahead.

How has the Vande Bharat Mission fared so far?

There are three separate and distinguishable components to this exercise. One is the identification of the people who want to come back. There are about nine million Indians working in the Gulf countries alone. If you take into account Indians in the US and UK, that’s a much larger number. We did an exercise initially with the ministry of external affairs primarily through India’s missions abroad. They came to the conclusion that 190,000 of our citizens in those countries find themselves stranded.

How did you work out the modalities to get them back?

We got off to a good start and it’s the just the beginning. This is...

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