By Ashoke Raj
New Delhi [India], May 10, (ANI): Air India's first Mumbai-bound repatriation flight carrying 155 passengers onboard departed from San Francisco International Airport under the Government of India's Vande Bharat mission on Sunday.
San Francisco (SFO) to Mumbai Air India's repatriation first flight took off at 11:30 am (US time).
Air India is operating in San Francisco sector after 50 days as India had imposed restrictions due to COVID-19 spread.
A senior official of Air India said that the first flight of the carrier which landed at San Francisco Airport is 'Crown Jewel' for the national carrier.
"Honestly! You cannot imagine how happy we Air Indians are to see our aircraft in San Francisco. This is our premium flight. A crown jewel," a senior AI official told ANI.
In the coming days, Air India will operate more flights in between the US and India under Vande Bharat Mission. "We are going to have 7 flights from 4 different hubs. These are all Air India hubs, and these flights are going to different cities of India," Taranjit Singh Sandhu, India's Ambassador to US told ANI.
Air India's San Fransisco team has applauded the team at the job. "Air Flight is in San Fransisco to evacuate people keen to return to India, welcome Captain Zoya and Captain Sanjeev Bhasin you guys are real heroes," an Air India staff posted in Facebook.
Captain Zoya Agarwal replied to the Facebook post, "Great Initiative by the Indian Government. Our PM Modi ji and our ministry to take this historical decision. We are proud and privileged to be part our national carrier AIR INDIA and this mission leading from the front and evacuating our fellow stranded citizens. Jai Hind."
The Government of India started operation Vande Bharat Mission to bring back around 14,800 stranded Indians from 12 countries on 64 AI flights. (ANI)