India to commence its biggest repatriation drive from Friday

India will begin phase-4 of its repatriation mission this Friday, with over 912 flights scheduled over six weeks. Private airlines will play a major role, with IndiGo operating 457 flights and GoAir chipping in with 41 flights.

This phase is the biggest so far, but will focus on fewer countries, with flights from only 17 nations.

In this phase, Air India will focus almost exclusively on long-haul destinations, leaving shorter routes to Air India Express and private carriers. Long-haul destinations include flights to Australia, the UK, the US, Ukraine, Canada, and Kenya. These flights will operate between July 3 and 15.

Flights from West Asia, which have seen the highest demand, as well as other parts of Asia, will be flown by Air India Express, IndiGo, and GoAir. The Ministry of Home Affairs website does list a few flights from SpiceJet as well, but these were not mentioned by the Ministry of Civil Aviation in its tweet, says a report by Simple Flying.

According to the Civil Aviation Ministry, private airlines will be at the centre of the repatriation flights this time. Indigo is operating the lion’s share of these flights and GoAir will also take up a number of flights from Kuwait, marking its first entry into the repatriation space. Vistara and AirAsia India don’t seem to be operating any flights, but that could change if more flights are added, the Simple Flying report added.

The decision to include private carriers will be a huge boost to the Indian aviation industry, giving airlines badly needed revenue.

The US had recently complained about India’s anti-competitive behaviour alleging that while it was allowing India to carry out repatriation flights, the same wasn’t reciprocated.