Due to an “overwhelming” response, Air India Saturday said it might offer more seats on its flights under the third phase of the Centre’s Vande Bharat Mission.
The announcement came a day after the national carrier opened bookings for 300 flights from select destinations, including the US and the UK, between June 10 and July 1.
Between 5 pm Friday and 8 am Saturday, the airline company experienced “6-7 times more activity” on its website, and over 22,000 seats were sold.
“Demand for seats from India on flights planned under Mission Vande Bharat-3 is overwhelming. Sectors/ Flights are being opened in a systematic manner for booking, on the website,” the airline tweeted.
#FlyAI: Demand for seats from India on flights planned under Mission Vande Bharat-3 is overwhelming. Sectors/ Flights are being opened in systematic manner for booking, on the website.— Air India (@airindiain) June 5, 2020
“Sale of tickets commenced at 5 pm yesterday to select destinations in the USA, Canada, UK & Europe under Phase3 of #VBM. Our website experienced 6-7 times more activity & over 22000 seats have been sold overall till 8 am. More seats to more destinations will be added in due course.”
#FlyAI: sale of tickets commenced at 5pm yesterday for select destinations in USA,Canada,UK & Europe under Phase3 of #VBM. Our website experienced 6-7 times more activity & over 22000 seats hv been sold overall till 8am. More seats to more destinations will be added in due course— Air India (@airindiain) June 6, 2020
The airline also reported six crore hits on its website during the initial two hours of opening the bookings, press agency PTI reported.
As a part of the Centre’s repatriation programme, the airline will operate around 300 flights to Europe, Australia, Canada, the USA, the UK and Africa.
At 8.20 pm on Friday, it tweeted: “Bookings for select destinations within the USA, Canada, UK and Europe etc under Phase3 of #MissionVandeBharat opened at 5 pm today. Around 60 million hits received till 7 pm on our website & 1700 seats sold through the website alone in 2 hrs. Bookings continue and tickets are being issued.”
However, because of the heavy traffic, several travellers vented their ire on social media and complained of glitches on the site.
A passenger named Vicky Ravi tweeted, “I’ve been trying to book flights for the last one hour, ur website crashed. Please kindly help me with the booking”.
Another passenger named Mandeep Kaur said the website is “very slow and the system is crashing”.
Amid the gradual ease in restrictions along with the resumption of domestic commercial passenger flights on May 25, Union Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri had said that the ministry is trying to start out some percentage of international passenger flights before August.
“I can’t put a date on it (restarting international flights). But if somebody says can it’s done by August or September, my response is why not earlier depending on what is the situation,” he had earlier said.
Under the Vande Bharat Mission, Air India and its subsidiary Air India Express started operating international flights from May 7 onwards to repatriate stranded Indians from abroad. the first phase was from May 7 to May 16, following which the second phase began.
Between May 7 and June 1, Air India group has operated a total of 423 inbound international flights under the mission, bringing 58,867 Indian citizens back to the country.
(With inputs from PTI)