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DUBAI: India is extending its repatriation flights by six days starting Aug. 1 for non-resident Indians in the Gulf affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The number of airports involved in the previous four phases of the repatriation program has also been expanded.

Air India will operate flights to Sharjah to collect nationals, according to state news agency WAM.

The airline’s scheduled domestic flights for the repatriation mission will be solely for expat Indians – local passengers will not be allowed onboard.

The repatriation mission will also cover airports in Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar.

The Vande Bharat mission was started by the Indian government on May 6, with Air India and other private carriers running unscheduled flights to repatriate nationals stuck overseas because of the pandemic.

A more detailed schedule for the mission’s latest phase, involving other Indian carriers is being finalized and is expected before Aug. 1, when the new schedules comes into effect.

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