India coronavirus: Massive evacuation operation to begin from 12 countries

Air India will operate 64 flights this week to bring back stranded Indians in the wake of Covid-19 as part of the Vande Bharat mission.(ANI Photo)

India has launched a massive evacuation operation to bring back Indians stranded in different parts of the world due to the coronavirus pandemic.

State-run carrier Air India will operate special flights from New Delhi, Cochin and Kozhikode to Singapore, Abu Dhabi and Dubai respectively as part of the Vande Bharat Mission.

Nearly 15,000 Indians are expected to return on special Air India flights from 12 countries over the next week.

Passengers will pay their own fares and be quarantined on return.

Instead, the first flight to return will be from Singapore, due to arrive into Delhi at 11:35 (06:35 GMT) on Friday. It leaves Delhi at 23:15 (18:35 GMT) on Thursday.

India suspended all international travel in March before it went into lockdown to curb Covid-19 infections.

Eventually, about 200,000 Indians will be brought back, report local media, BBC reported.

Air India, the country’s national airline, will carry out the mission and fly planes to the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Qatar and Malaysia, among other countries.

The Indian mission in the UAE alone has received 197,000 applications to be repatriated so far.

Most of the flights are expected to land in the southern Indian state of Kerala, from where tens of thousands go to work abroad.