Two Air India repatriation flight carrying a total of 363 Indian nationals from the UAE landed in Kochi and Kozhikode Thursday. The flights are part of India’s biggest-ever repatriation exercise to bring back its citizens stranded abroad amidst the international travel lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic.
The first flight from Abu Dhabi landed in Kochi a little after 10 pm as part of the government’s Vande Bharat mission to bring back its citizens stranded abroad. The second flight from Dubai touched down in Kozhikode just after 10.30 pm. Captain Anshul Sheoran of IX 419 AbuDhabi Kochi flight welcomed passengers with the message “welcome aboard. We are going home”. Meanwhile, Indian Navy’s INS Jalashwa, also reached the Maldives to bring back stranded Indian citizens.
Nearly 15,000 Indians stranded overseas are expected to return on special Air India flights from 12 countries over a week, starting Thursday. The government will operate 64 flights until May 13 and use three Navy ships, as part of Phase I of an evacuation plan, named “Vande Bharat Mission”. Of the 64 flights, 15 would be to Kerala, 11 each to Delhi and Tamil Nadu, seven each to Maharashtra and Telangana, and the rest to Gujarat, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh. (Follow coronavirus LIVE updates )