Under ‘Lifeline UDAN’, 116 flights have been operated so far by Air India, Alliance Air, IAF, Pawan Hans, and other private carriers within India, says a press communiqué released by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) on Sunday. Around 79 of these flights have been operated by Air India and Alliance Air. The cargo transported till date is around 161 tonnes with aerial distance of over 1,12,178 km being covered.
On the international front, MoCA and Air India have been working closely with China to establish a cargo air-bridge between the two countries for the transfer of critical medical supplies. The first cargo flight between India and China was operated by Air India on April 4, carrying 21 tonnes of critical medical supplies from China.
Despite significant logistical challenges in road transportation of cargo to and from airports, production bottlenecks and movement of aviation personnel, the Lifeline UDAN flights are being operated by MoCA to transport essential medical cargo including COVID-19 related reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, gloves and other accessories to remote parts of the country to support India’s war against COVID-19.
The date-wise breakup of the Lifeline UDAN flights are as follows:
Domestic Cargo Operators SpiceJet, Blue Dart, and Indigo are operating cargo flights on a commercial basis.
SpiceJet operated 166 cargo flights from 24 March to 4 April 2020 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 25 March and 4 April 2020.
Indigo has operated 8 cargo flights during 3-4 April 2020 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.
Special focus has been on the North East Region (NER), island territories and the hill states. MoCA, Air India and IAF have collaborated closely for last-mile deliveries to Ladakh, Dimapur, Imphal, Guwahati and Port Blair, reads the press communiqué.
The bulk of the cargo planes have carried both light-weight and voluminous products like masks, gloves and other consumables, that require more space on the aircraft per tonne.
Aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has granted special permission to store cargo in the passenger seating area and overhead cabins, with due precautions.