IndiGo Plans Almost 100 Middle East Repatriation Flights

IndiGo has received permission to operate 97 flights between India and four Middle East countries. These flights will operate between the state of Kerala and Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait. The government recently allowed private carriers to operate repatriation flights in a bid to increase the number of citizens returning home. Let’s find out more.

IndiGo A320
IndiGo will operate 97 out of the 180 flights allotted to private airlines. Photo: Airbus

Demand keeps growing

India began a massive repatriation effort in early May, aimed at bringing home Indians stranded abroad. However, the demand for these flights has massively outstripped supply, with hundreds of thousands registering. This number has been steadily growing, as more countries impose strict lockdowns and suspend flights.

Nearly 60,000 have registered for repatriation from Saudi Arabia and over 200,000 from the UAE. India has had to prioritize those with compelling reasons, such as the elderly, pregnant women, and those with expiring visas. However, the figures show us how many Indians wish to return and the urgent need for more flights.

Air India
Air India has operated all repatriation flights until now. Photo: Tom Boon/Simple Flying

Two days ago, the government announced that it would allow private carriers to operate repatriation flights, subject to approval. While Air India has done an admirable job, with so many registrations it would be unfeasible for a single airline to fly everyone home. The move is meant to satisfy the growing number of Indians wanting to return home as well as help struggling airlines.

IndiGo to lead private repatriation

IndiGo, the country’s largest airline, has been awarded 97 out of the 180 private repatriation flights. While it is unclear how the proportion of flights were divided, it could be roughly based on market share (IndiGo holds around 49% of the market share). It is also yet to be revealed how many flights other airlines will be operating and on what routes.

IndiGo plans to fly 36 flights from Saudi Arabia, 28 from Doha, 23 from Kuwait, and 10 from Muscat. All flights will originate in Kerala and we will receive more details on timings and capacity in the coming days.

Indian Airlines
IndiGo is leading among private airlines in terms of number of repatriation flights. Photo: Getty Images

It must be noted that IndiGo will not fly to the UAE, which has seen the most registrations for rescue flights. This could mean other airlines have been given this lucrative route or Air India will solely operate the route. With the massive Indian population concentrated in the Middle East, it makes sense why the government is focusing on more flights to the region.

Indian aviation’s exciting week

This week has proved to be one of the best for Indian airlines this year. Not only did airlines get the opportunity to fly rescue flights, but also restart domestic operations. This will definitely be a boost to airlines, which have had a tough two months due to India’s flight ban. Airlines also did not receive any form of a bailout in India’s economic stimulus, only long-term plans. However, this week’s twin decisions will help airlines survive in the short-term, as ticket sales provide much-needed revenue.

What do you think about India’s plan for private repatriation flights? Are you hoping to return to India soon? Let us know in the comments below.