Nearly 50 cargo flights have arrived at Chennai airport since the COVID-19 lockdown came into effect late in March.
Various airlines including Etihad, Ethiopian, Cathay Pacific, Qatar, SpiceJet, Singapore and Turkish have brought cargo to the city in the last two weeks. Similarly, nearly 50 flights have left the city too, carrying essential medical supplies and other necessary cargo.
According to officials of Airports Authority of India (AAI), nearly 90% of the cargo that has come into the city has been medical supplies such as gloves, N-95 masks, face masks, digital thermometers and printed circuit boards for ventilators and defibrillators. Many of the flights that have come to the city have not bought supplies for Chennai alone -- they arrive here for transit and head to various other destinations as well. “We are working with skeletal staff but making sure all the cargo that arrives is managed well and the process is smooth. Some of the flights give us the schedule in advance, while in some urgent cases, we get to know a day or two before; but whatever be the case, we are trying to make sure there are no issues,” an official said.
Various cargo flights arrive and depart from and to different international destinations including Shanghai, Hongkong and Addis Ababa and to some domestic airports like Surat, Delhi and Kochi, airport sources said.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) had issued on a circular recently, reiterating that while cargo operations are allowed as it helps in transporting goods, precautionary measures should be taken. DGCA has said, all the staff who are involved with handling of cargo operations should strictly ensure they are 1-1.5 metres away from each other and those monitoring the operations should make sure this is maintained. “All personnel dealing with cargo operations will be provided with personal protective equipment like masks/gloves,” the circular states. Further DGCA has said, the common working areas must be disinfected at regular intervals.