With more than half a million Indian nationals repatriated from around the world through the Vande Bharat Mission, the highest number was from the UAE, officials have said. Some 125,000 Indians were flown home from the country since May 7 until the end of June.
According to official data released by the Indian Ministry of External Affairs, a total 503,990 people have been repatriated from 137 countries. Out of this, 25 per cent boarded more than 700 flights from the UAE - primarily from Dubai and Abu Dhabi - the Indian Embassy said.
Two hundred flights were operated by Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express and over 500 were chartered by companies, organisations, associations and businessmen.
"(The south Indian state of) Kerala received the largest number of stranded Indians (94,085), followed by the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Tamil Nadu, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh. The largest number of stranded Indians that have returned on Vande Bharat Mission flights is from the UAE (57,305), followed by Kuwait, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the US," the Indian ministry said.
The embassy clarified that the figure of 57,305 passengers referred only to those who were repatriated on Air India and Air India Express flights. The rest, more than 67,000 passengers, were flown out through private chartered services.
"Overall, 450,000 nationals had registered. Until the end of June, 125,000 passengers have been repatriated, in a few days it will be 150,000. We are seeing a dip in demand," the embassy said.
The Indian Ministry of Civil Aviation on Friday extended the ban on international flights until July 31. The restriction was supposed to last only until July 15 according to the previous order.
The embassy has assured that repatriation will continue until all stranded nationals are flown home. "Special flights will continue until those who want to return are home. This will go on until commercial flights start operations from India to the UAE."
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