Chennai

Coronavirus | Chennai airport handled 400 flights to transport over 8,000 tonnes of cargo during lockdown

Officials said apart from medical cargo, there is also hardware, farm and marine produce and other cargo that arrives and departs from Chennai

Chennai airport has handled over 8,000 metric tonnes of cargo in the last two months, handling several essential and non essential goods from and to various cities across the country and foreign destinations too.

Officials of Airports Authority of India (AAI) said, during the lockdown period, there have been nearly 400 aircraft movements — 200 flights arriving and 200 departing — at Chennai airport, with airlines like SpiceJet, Air India and IndiGo transporting cargo. “Persons who handle the cargo are given masks and gloves and the entire airside is disinfected regularly,” an official said.

SpiceJet has operated 18 international cargo flights and 110 domestic cargo flights from March 24 to April 21, carrying as much as 80 tonnes to Bangkok, Singapore, Myanmar and 630 tonnes to places like Vishakhapatnam, Kolkata, Kochi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kozhikode, Delhi, Ahmedabad, Surat and Thiruvananthapuram.

“On April 7, SpiceJet operated India’s first cargo-on-seat flight, carrying vital supplies in passenger cabin & belly space from Delhi to Chennai. Since then, the airline has been regularly deploying its B737 and Q400 passenger aircraft to carry cargo in the passenger cabin. Also, on April 9, SpiceJet operated its first cargo freighter to Singapore to bring critical medical equipment to Chennai,” the airline said, in a statement.

Apart from transporting vital supplies like medicines, IR thermometers, masks, PPE, test kits and critical medical equipment, Chennai airport has also had many other cargoes arriving and departing from here. AAI officials said, medical cargo accounts for about 10-15 percent only. “We have laptops, spare parts for several machineries, hardware, farm and marine produce that arrive and depart from Chennai,” an official said.

For instance, SpiceJet has some dedicated freighter services that fly from Chennai and Vishakhapatnam to Surat and Kolkata to aid shrimp farmers. “Till now, shrimp hatcheries used to face a lot of problems in transporting seeds in the absence of dedicated flights leading to a high mortality rate of shrimp seeds which in turn led to heavy losses,” the airline said.

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 7:54:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/chennai-airport-has-handled-400-flights-to-transport-over-8000-tonnes-of-cargo-during-covid-19-lockdown/article31509933.ece

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