• Joyeeta Mazumdar

SpiceJet to operate 25 flights during the 4th phase evacuation process under Vande Bharat Mission


The on-going Covid-19 Pandemic has made the world come to a stand-still. Many people have lost their jobs, and some are even working for half or less than half of their salary. The worst part is that many citizens are stuck on foreign lands with no means or ways to get back.

Keeping this in mind, the Government of India has taken up the initiative to help Indians who are stuck in the Gulf and the Middle East. If you remember the movie Airlift, it was based on real events about a significant evacuation of Indians from Kuwait. Air India had set the record of bringing back close to 1,76,000 Indians. The same thing is happening again in the COVID-19 pandemic; and, it seems like the 2020 evacuation is going to create a new record.


What is the Vande Bharat Mission?

The Vande Bharat Mission is an initiative that the Government of India has taken. We all know that many Indians migrate to the Gulf, the Middle East, and various other parts of the world for employment opportunities. Moreover, a lot of them even take their families along to provide a better lifestyle. Due to this on-going pandemic, many Indians are stuck in various parts of the Gulf and the Middle East. Most of them have even lost their jobs and are facing a lot of challenges to sustain their day to day expenses.

What is worse is that air travel is not possible because of the restrictions and lockdown. The Indian Government, along with the Indian Aviation Industry, has come up with an initiative to bring them back home. This initiative is not only restricted to the working class but also includes many Indian officials who work on behalf of the Government in foreign countries. Many airline companies like SpiceJet and Air India are operating numerous flights worldwide to help in the evacuation process.

The process of the Evacuation in the Middle East and Gulf

The evacuation is set to happen in various phases within a couple of months. Every month, the airline companies that are part of this mission are sending out a certain number of flights every day. These flights are operating from various parts of the Gulf, like UAE, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia, etc. In India, they are landing across cities like Ahmedabad, Goa, Mumbai, Delhi, etc. In total, as of now, there are four phases of the evacuation process. The third phase of the evacuation took place in June. If need be, the concerned authorities will also extend the evacuation phases depending on the number of people that are left behind.

Issues of emergency travel passports and permissions

As a norm, the Indians who are working in the Gulf and the Middle East have to handover their passport to their employers until their work permit or contract ends. With the on-going pandemic, many of them are stuck because they do not have their documents in place. People can register themselves under the Vande Bharat Initiative if they want to come back to the country. The Indian authorities will do the needful to permit them to travel back home.

In some cases, the authorities are catering to the needs of other country citizens who have to go via India back to their home country. For example, if there are Bangladeshi’s stuck in the gulf, they will issue travel permissions to land in India so that they can take a connecting flight back home. In such cases, they would need to get a letter from the issue authorities to seek permission to land in India. These citizens would also need to provide their transit flight details in advance to the Indian authorities to obtain permission.

SpiceJet has converted itself from just a commercial airline to a commercial and cargo airline.

SpiceJet is one of the airlines that is part of this initiative. Only in the Gulf and the Middle East alone, the company has operated more than 50 flights to help bring back the Indians. So far, they have chartered more than 30,000 Indians and over 200 flights. For the Middle East and Gulf, they have close to 6 flights flying to and from the Gulf daily.

Apart from its commercial airline facilities, SpiceJet has also operated as a cargo airline company. Since the lockdown, they have sent close to 3,500 cargo flights. The overall cargo weight that the company has chartered is close to 20,200 tonnes. These record-breaking numbers are twice the amount of all the combined total of domestic airlines. For July, SpiceJet is all set to take on a new record by introducing more number of flights in total. In July, Spice jet plans to operate close to 25 flights from various parts of the Gulf and the Middle East back to India.

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