India to resume regular international flights only after other countries ease restrictions.
To bring back stranded Indian nationals and certain categories of Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) card holders, India has announced tens of more Air India flights from the US to various cities in India.
Bookings on the new flights between June 11 and July 1 from Chicago, Newark, New York, San Francisco and Washington began on the Air India website from 1030 Hrs EDT on Monday June 8.
Only Indian nationals and OCI Cardholders with compelling cases and registered with the Embassy/Consulates will be eligible to travel on these Vande Bharat Mission Phase III special flights to India.
Indian nationals facing medical emergencies or requiring return due to bereavement in the family, students, pregnant women, elderly or those facing expiry of visas will be given priority, according to a travel advisory issued by the Embassy of India in Washington.
Permitted categories of OCI card holders include minor children born to Indian nationals abroad and those wishing to come to India on account of family emergencies like death in family.
Couples where one spouse is an OCI cardholder and the other is an Indian national and they have a permanent residence in India are also eligible.
Also permitted are OCI university students who are not legally minors, but whose parents are Indian citizens living in India.
The permitted categories of OCI cardholders will not require any fresh emergency visa, the embassy said
It also advised stranded Indian nationals in US and OCI card holders desirous of availing special VBM flights to India to register with the Embassy/Consulate at the earliest.
The updated flight schedule for Phase-III is available on the Air India website.
Air India in a tweet Monday said more than 22000 seats were sold on its website on June 5 and 6 on flights from India to select destinations in USA and Canada.
“Bookings for USA & Canada under #VandeBharatMissionphase3 are being done with complete transparency through our website only,” it wrote.
Meanwhile, Indian Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri has said that India will take a decision on resuming commercial international flights only after other countries ease their restrictions on entry of foreign nationals and allow incoming flights.
“A decision to resume regular international operations will be taken as soon as countries ease restrictions on entry of foreign nationals,” he tweeted. “Destination countries have to be ready to allow incoming flights,”
More than 13,500 people have flown out of India on VBM flights, he said in another tweet. Another 100,000 passengers flew out of India and around 38,000 Indian citizens returned on around 640 chartered flights.