NEW DELHI: The national carrier Air India has brought in 21 loads of critical medical supplies from China for treatment of coronavirus infected people.
"On the international front, the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Air India has worked closely with China to ascertain a cargo air-bridge between the 2 countries for the transfer of critical medical supplies. the primary cargo flight between India and China was operated by Air India on 4 April 2020, carrying 21 loads of critical medical supplies from China," an official statement said.
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It also said that a total of 116 flights have been operated under 'Lifeline Udan' to date by Air India, Alliance Air, the IAF, Pawan Hans and personal carriers. Out of the whole, 79 flights are operated by Air India and Alliance Air.
Total cargo transported till April 4 is around 161 tons, it added.
The cargo includes COVID-19 related reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, gloves, other materials of HLL and ICMR alongside cargo requisitioned by the state government and union territories and postal packets among others.
The bulk of the cargo comprises light-weight and voluminous products like masks, gloves and other consumables, that need more room on the aircraft per ton. Special permission has been taken to store cargo in the passenger seating and overhead cabins, with due precautions, the statement said.
Lifeline Udan flights operate in a 'hub and spoke' model. Cargo hubs are established at Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Kolkata, Hyderabad and Bengaluru. Lifeline Udan flights connect these hubs to locations like Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Agartala, Aizwal, Dimapur, Imphal, Coimbatore, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneswar, Raipur, Ranchi, Srinagar, Port Blair, Cochin, Vijayawada and Panaji.
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The statement also said that domestic cargo operators SpiceJet, Blue Dart and Indigo are operating cargo flights on a commercial basis.