In a first, cargo travels across country on seats

Buckled up: Airline staff secure the cargo. special arrangement

Buckled up: Airline staff secure the cargo. special arrangement  

SpiceJet flies urgent medical supplies to various cities on passenger aircraft

SpiceJet on Tuesday operated on-seat cargo flights carrying urgent medical supplies, along with vegetables and fruits, to Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Surat.

Officials in the Directorate General of Civil Aviation said this was the first time permission was granted to use the passenger area to move cargo supplies under the COVID-19 relief flights. The flight from Mumbai to Delhi on Tuesday evening ferried 15 tonnes of essential medical supplies which will be sent to other parts of India.

Flame-proof covers

Special seat covers made from flame-proof material were used to cover the seats and the cargo on-seat was secured with restraints. To ensure optimum utilisation of space, the overhead bins were also used. The aircraft flew from Delhi to Chennai then to Surat and back to Chennai. Later the aircraft operated from Chennai to Mumbai and from there to Delhi with cargo on-board.

Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, SpiceJet, said, “Since the lockdown began, we have carried more than 1,400 tonnes of cargo operating around 200 domestic and international cargo flights. Today, for the first time, we used a passenger aircraft to transport cargo where in addition to the belly space, the passenger cabin was used to safely carry essential supplies.”

The airline is also using five of its freighters to transport cold chain medical supplies, medicines and medical devices for various State governments, and medical and pharmaceutical companies, including government of India-owned healthcare product manufacturer HLL Lifecare Ltd.

The Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) said it was carrying out advance planning through online meetings and virtual war rooms twice a day so no stone remains unturned in linking the supply and demand side.

“Called Chintan and Manthan, the two meetings are held to review the execution of the day’s planning and check if any modification is required at any stage. In this meeting, forward planning is also done to assess requirement and distribution of resources,” officals said.

Under Lifeline UDAN initiative of MoCA, 152 cargo flights had been operated till April 6 across the country to transport medical cargo to various parts of the country, including remote and hilly areas. On Monday, the Indian Air Force (IAF), Alliance Air, SpiceJet and an Air India Chartered flight operated five lifeline routes. Of these, the IAF operated 13 flights.

200 tonnes delivered

“With support from Air India, Alliance Air, IAF and private airlines, medical supplies of more than 200 tonnes have been delivered till date during the lockdown,” the official said.

An IndiGo spokesperson said in its endeavour to provide support to the nation, the airline had been authorised to operate over 30 relief flights.

“These flights have been successful in carrying and supplying the medical equipment and other requisite resources across the country, while adhering to all the precautionary measures. The airline has been allowed by the government to carry cargo in planes, to fly food, medicine and medical equipment in the country’s battle against the pandemic. These flights are being operated by the company at its own cost,” an IndiGo spokesperson said.

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Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 3:08:52 PM |

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