The Director General of Civil Aviation on Wednesday allowed airlines to carry cargo within passenger cabin and on seats, apart from the aircraft belly, in order to enable them to accommodate more freight in view of the lockdown and manage cost-efficient operations.
Airlines will have to obtain permission from the DGCA and ensure that the cargo is restrained and will not interfere with emergency evacuation. Aircraft manufacturers such as Airbus and Boeing allow their airplanes to be used in this manner and have detailed guidelines to ensure safety.
In order to stow consignments on and below passenger seats, airlines will have to obtain additional permission
“Operations without passengers and with cargo in the passenger compartment will require suitable number of crew member/ personnel to survey and access all areas of the cabin during all phases of flight,” says the latest DGCA advisory.
So far, 74 cargo flights have been operated in the past one week by Air India, Alliance Air, IAF, Pawan Hans, IndiGo and SpiceJet. Passenger airlines like Air India, SpiceJet and IndiGo have conducted a total of 64 flights among them.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has airlifted nearly 25 tonnes of medical supplies in the last three days from Delhi, Surat, and Chandigarh to Manipur, Nagaland and the Union Territories of J&K and Ladakh, a statement said. The IAF’s C-17, C-130, An-32, AVRO & Dornier aircraft are being used for the assistance.
The medical supplies include Personal Protective Equipment, Hand sanitizers, surgical gloves, thermal scanners and medical personnel.
Other carriers across the world such as Lufthansa, Delta, United and Etihad have already started “passenger freighter” services to help them earn revenue at a time when there is a sharp fall in passenger demand.