More than 200,000 Indians stranded in different countries have been repatriated under the Vande Bharat Mission till date. The initiative, started by the Indian Government to bring back distressed Indians who were stranded due to the Covid-19 pandemic, involved two Indian carriers - Air India and Air India Express. Several individuals from other nationalities were also stuck in India and they too were ferried back to their respective home countries on outbound flights as part of initiative.
The Vande Bharat Mission took off on May 7, and until July 13, about 1,103 flights operated by the Air India group (Air India and Air India Express), managed to bring back 208,724 passengers from abroad. Air India operated 639 flights carrying 1,26,078 Indians, while Air India Express conducted 464 flights ferrying 82,646 Indians back home.
About 85,289 individuals of various nationalities who were stranded in India were also flown to their home countries on outbound flights Air India ferried 78,037 passengers, while Air India Express carried 7,252 passengers.
The entire operation was carried out in four phases and Air India's operations covered 71 cities in 53 countries including Middle East, US, Europe, South East Asia and Africa. Expatriates from 17 states in India were flown back to the country.
Earlier this year, Air India had successfully carried out evacuation missions in Wuhan (China), Japan and Italy.This was first-of-its-kind medical evacuation exercise conduced by India and going by the sheer number of passengers,and the number of countries covered, the Vande Bharat Mission can easily be considered as the biggest evacuation exercise carried out by any civil airline in the world.
The previous evacuation record is also held by Air India. In 1990-91, a record number of 1,11,711 stranded Indians were brought back to the country from Kuwait on 488 flights.