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Photo: Reuters
Photo: Reuters

Vistara to operate repatriation flights from Singapore from 14 June

Vistara says it is looking at operating two flights to Singapore under Vande Bharat Mission, to bring back stranded Indians

NEW DELHI : Vistara, a full service carrier owned by Tata Sons and Singapore Airlines, will carry out repatriation flights to bring back stranded Indian citizens home from as early as 14 June, a senior official of the airline told Mint on Thursday.

"We are looking at operating two flights to Singapore under Vande Bharat Mission, to bring back Indians stuck in Singapore. This will be on our narrow body aircraft," said Vinod Kannan, chief strategy officer at Vistara.

"We should be operating the first flight on Sunday. This will be in collaboration with the High Commission of India in Singapore," he added.

At present, only Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express have carried out repatriation flights under the government's flagship Vande Bharat Mission (VBM) to bring back stranded Indians home from foreign nations. Among private carriers, so far only IndiGo has received permissions to carry out charter repatriation flights, which were however not under the VBM.

The airline has also approached the government to carry out long haul repatriation flights on its Boeing 787 (Dreamliner) plane.

Vistara, which currently has one Boeing 787-9 plane in its fleet, hopes to start flying the plane on long-haul repatriation routes by July, provided the airline is able to get necessary licenses, and approvals from various authorities to fly the wide body plane to long-haul destinations, Kannan said.

One of key requirements to obtain license for flying Boeing 787 on international routes is to have pilots trained to fly a minimum number of domestic sectors on the aircraft or simulator, conducted in presence of flying instructors.

"At present, we are operating a limited number of Boeing 787 flights, from Delhi to Mumbai and Delhi to Kolkata. In fact every pilot is required to fly at least six to eight sectors before operating long haul flights. So, it will also be a question of how fast can we get these sectors in (our itinerary)," Kannan added.

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