Air Seychelles has repatriated 496 Indian nationals between July and October 2020 as part of the ‘Vande Bharat Mis-sion,’ the airline said on Friday.
The national carrier operated seven special flights from Seychelles to Ahmedabad, Chennai and Mumbai.
The seventh special flight left Seychelles last Friday, October 2, carrying 89 Indian nationals to Ahmedabad.
The Vande Bharat Mission is an initiative of the Indian government to undertake the largest ever repatriation of Indian nationals stranded in different parts of the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Air Seychelles, through the initiative and the ‘Samudra Setu’ operation which is rescuing stranded Indian nationals by sea, with the assistance of the Indian Navy, almost 2 million stranded Indians have already been brought back to India.
The flights conducted in collaboration with the High Commission of India in Seychelles and the Department of Foreign Affairs were operated to the western and southern parts of India thereby feeding to the rest of the country.
The Indian High Commissioner, Dalbir Singh Suhag, said, “The aspirations of the stranded Indians have been fulfilled by the timely repatriation carried out so far by the two nonscheduled flights operated by Air India and seven other non-scheduled flights operated by Air Seychelles to date.”
He conveyed his gratitude to Air Seychelles “for taking this noble initiative despite the COVID-19 restrictions and helping our Indian nationals reach closer to their hometown.”
On his side, the chief executive of Air Seychelles, Remco Althuis, said that “during this unprecedented time, we under-stand the desire of citizens stranded in Seychelles to go home and the difficulty of operating flights due to the dynamic situation of COVID-19.”
He added that “Air Seychelles is indeed grateful for the support of the High Commission of India and Department of Foreign Affairs over the past three months in ensuring the success of these flights. The airline will continue to work closely with both establishments in the upcoming months to operate additional flights to Ahmedabad and Mumbai on demand, to continue to provide Indian nationals with the opportunity to go home.”
The categories chosen for the repatriation flights are as per the standard operating procedure issued by the Indian Min-istry of Home Affairs, for movement of its stranded citizens issued on May 24.
Since May this year, Air Seychelles has been operating repatriation flights for both Seychellois nationals abroad and foreigners stranded because of a restriction imposed by countries to curb the spread of the COVID-19.
The Seychelles’ national carrier will resume limited passenger flights to Johannesburg, Mauritius and Tel Aviv as from November 1.