Industry

Kerala floods: Aviation players go beyond the call of duty

The flooded Cochin International Airport on August 16, 2018.

The flooded Cochin International Airport on August 16, 2018.   | Photo Credit: Thulasi Kakkat

Aviation players kept up air connectivity.

After Kochi airport was flooded on August 15, airlines were asked to fly to Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode. Meanwhile, on August 16, the Civil Aviation Ministry proposed that Kochi’s naval airbase be used for civilian flights.

Joint Secretary Usha Padhee created a WhatsApp group connecting the ministry, Kerala’s Chief Secretary, and the important players in Kochi. In less than 30 hours, regulatory agencies conducted a test flight at the naval facility, and security equipment like x-ray machines and baggage scanners from Thiruvananthapuram were shifted in.

Airlines started flights with smaller ATR planes from August 20, five days after Kochi airport was forced to close.

Civil Aviation Secretary R.N. Choubey praised Alliance Air, Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, and ground handling personnel, among others, for going beyond the call of duty. “It has been a heroic effort on the part of government agencies, whose own family members were trapped or stranded. CISF jawans even volunteered to swim to the Naval airbase! In particular, the Indian Navy rose to the occasion, because their establishment was already fully stretched carrying out relief operations.”

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan felicitates Air Officer Air Marshall B. Suresh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, IAF, for the flood relief operations in Kerala, in Thiruvananthapuram.

Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan felicitates Air Officer Air Marshall B. Suresh, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Southern Air Command, IAF, for the flood relief operations in Kerala, in Thiruvananthapuram.   | Photo Credit: S. Mahinsha

 

Vistara, which flew only to Kochi, set up a new station in Thiruvananthapuram in 14 hours, something that normally takes weeks. Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer Sanjiv Kapoor credits the airport authorities for giving them vacant slots and check-in desks, and regulatory agencies for coming together to expedite processes. “Everybody said, let’s make it happen.” Other airlines also quickly re-routed flights.

Aside from waiving cancellation and rescheduling charges and capping fares, many airlines joined in the relief efforts. IndiGo carried in nearly 30 tonnes of relief material, Vistara 15 tonnes, and Jet Airways over 10 tonnes. Vistara also ferried in doctors, nurses, disaster management experts and skilled volunteers for free. Emirates SkyCargo will carry in over 175 tonnes of goods donated by UAE-based entities.

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The photo caption has been corrected for a factual error.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 4:35:47 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/Industry/kerala-floods-aviation-players-go-beyond-the-call-of-duty/article24786226.ece

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