National passenger carrier Air India has mobilised massive resources to operate international charter and cargo flights. The airline repatriated stranded foreigners from India and also brought back critical medical cargo from Shanghai.
“All these flights are being operated adhering to all safety protocols laid down by the DGCA,” the airline said in a statement.
Air India is scheduled to operate 18 charter flights to fly back German, French, Irish and Canadian nationals stranded in India amid the nationwide lockdown, as requested by their respected embassies.
“While the Germans and French will be flown to Frankfurt and Paris, the other two nationalities will be taken to Heathrow in London from where Canada and Ireland (governments) would be making further travel arrangements for them,” the airline stated.
“These chartered flights started from March 31 with German nationals flying to Frankfurt. Earlier, AI had ferried Israeli nationals to Tel Aviv as well in a chartered flight,” it added.
In the first week of April, Air India commenced first cargo flight between Shanghai and Delhi, carrying vital medical cargo between the two countries. It is scheduled to operate more cargo flights till April 9. The airline will also be operating cargo flights to Hong Kong.
On the domestic front, the Air India Group has been transporting essential cargo throughout the country. The airline has operated almost 80 cargo flights between March 26 and April 3 while the country remains in lockdown.
Flights are operated regularly between the metro hubs like Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Chennai to the destinations in north-east regions like Guwahati, Agartala, Aizwal and Imphal, as well as island territories and the hill states. They are carrying supplies like COVID-19 related reagents, testing kits, medical equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, gloves, and other medical necessities.
Air India has been instrumental in rescuing stranded Indians (mainly students and pilgrims) from China, Japan and Europe.
In a LinkedIn post, Amber Dubey, the Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Civil Aviation, lauded the airline’s continued efforts.
“Heard from a senior Air India pilot who commanded the special flight from Mumbai to Frankfurt today that every ATC they crossed said ‘Really proud of u guys'” the post read.
“This was a special Air India flight that flew out stranded European and Canadian citizens from Mumbai. All crew members including the pilots wore the mandatory COVID-19 coveralls for over 20 hours at a stretch (to/fro and ground time at Frankfurt). They will now remain in self-quarantine for 14 days,” he added.
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