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New Delhi, April 5, 2020
National carrier Air India ferried 21 tonnes of critical medical supplies on Saturday from China to India as part of the cargo air-bridge set up between the two countries as part of the measures to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Within India, Lifeline UDAN flights have so far transported 161 tonnes of essential cargo across the country, a press release from the Ministry of Civil Aviation said.
Under Lifeline UDAN, 116 flights have been operated by Air India, Alliance Air, IAF, Pawan Hans and private carriers. Air India and Alliance Air operated 79 of these flights. Aerial distance covered by Lifeline Udan flights till date is over 112,178 km.
‘Lifeline Udan’ flights are being operated by the Ministry to transport essential medical cargo to remote parts of the country to support India’s war against COVID-19.
Special focus has been on the North East Region (NER), island territories and the hill states. The Ministry, Air India and Indian Air Force (IAF) have collaborated closely for last-mile deliveries to Ladakh, Dimapur, Imphal, Guwahati and Port Blair.
Bulk of the cargo comprises light-weight and voluminous products like masks, gloves and other consumables, that require more space on the aircraft per tonne. Special permission has been taken to store cargo in the passenger seating area and overhead cabins, with due precautions, the release said.
The Lifeline Udan flights are being operated despite significant logistical challenges in road transportation of cargo to and from airports, production bottlenecks and in the movement of aviation personnel, it said.
Public information related to Lifeline Udan flights is uploaded daily on the Lifeline Udan website. A portal for coordinating Lifeline Udan flights was developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. A link to the Lifeline Udan portal is available on MoCA’s website www.civilaviation.gov.in.
Domestic cargo operators SpiceJet, Blue Dart and IndiGo are operating cargo flights on a commercial basis. SpiceJet operated 166 cargo flights from March 24 to April 4, covering a distance of 2,23,241 km and carrying 1,327 tonnes of cargo. Out of these, 46 were international cargo flights.
Blue Dart operated 52 domestic cargo flights, covering a distance of 50,086 km and carrying 761 tonnes of cargo between during the same period. IndiGo has operated 8 cargo flights on April 3-4 covering a distance of 6,103 km and carrying around 3 tonnes of cargo. This includes medical supplies carried free of cost for the government.