Airports in North East serving life line for ferrying Medical goods to fight COVID-19.
Guwahati, April 1 : Amid global crisis arising due to outbreak of Coronavirus, all commercial schedule, non-schedule flights in India were suspended, but to cater to emergency services and to ferry crucial cargo and medical equipment, north east airports are serving an essential role.
Most of the major Airports in the region have operationalised watch hours at Guwahati, Agartala, Dibrugarh, Imphal, Silchar, Shillong, Dimapur, Tezpur, Lilabari and others as and when required.
Usha Padhee, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Civil Aviation said that to address the seamless movement of air cargo, a high level committee has been constituted with Secretaries. As faced by ICMR, moving medicine/ accessories in small quantities to various places through commercial freighters becoming difficult. Existing freighters are mostly covering trunk routes.
Same may be the case for States. Above referred committee is empowered to hire dedicated charters for the air cargo purpose. All states are requested to put up their specific request in the following template. Air cargo details:
1. From-_______ To:_______
2. Responsible agency & coordinates at origin ( phone, email etc):
3. Responsible agency & coordinates at destination ( phone, email etc):
4. Responsible officer from Govt agency:
5. Timeline ( By what date it should be lifted) :
6. Any additional info.
It was also directed that for other assistance, contact your Resident commissioner of particular state in Delhi to upload details.
Sanjeev Jindal , Regional Executive Director, AAI said that – “All our NE airports are open in one general shift with minimum operational staffs and officers from ATC, Airport Operations, Fire, CNS etc to support cargo movements to help people and agencies in the region. If required we are ready to extend the watch hours at these airports and can be made available on a call for any emergency.”
Earlier AAI, North East HQ under the Regional Executive Director’s initiative donated Rs. 50 Lakhs to the Govt of Assam and Rs 10 lakh each to the rest of the State Govts in North East Region to fight against Corona Virus.
The first cargo was ferried by the state govt of Tripura by VTENZ, Pawan Hans Helicopter operating from Agartala to Kolkata on March 26 with transient halt at Guwahati and Bagdogra for refuelling, departed Agartala at 11.07 am( IST) and landed at Guwahati at around 12.40 pm(IST).
Helicopter then returned to Agartala on March 27 at around 5 pm. It was on a medical mission to bring medical kits connected with COVID -19 for the state government.
The first cargo flight operated by Air India landed at MBB Airport, Agartala at 13:40 Hrs on March 28 carrying 77 Cartons of essential items and weighing 457 kg. The flight came from Kolkata and it returned same day itself to Kolkata.
It’s a big relief for the people of Tripura that the government is ensuring uninterrupted supply of essential items. AAI is also doing its best by opening ATC watch and ensuring the expeditious landing of Cargo flights at MBB Airport and other Airports where these cargo flights are scheduled to operate.
At Dimapur Airport in Nagaland, One air force aircraft came from Hindon airport to Imphal with medical equipment etc.at 1:00 pm IST.
An IAF Flight from Hindon (Delhi) to Port Blair was also on en-route. Air force operated one flight to Imphal, Manipur on March 29 and another cargo flight last day with total cargo delivered for two days carrying a total of 5.5 tonnes of relief equipments.
Meanwhile Air INDIA has also been roped in to ferry air cargo, A DEL-GAU (Air India 1675 ) on March 31 delivered 263 Pkg of 2312 Kg for Nagaland Govt, 10 Pkg of 176 Kg for Govt of Meghalaya, 10 Pkgof 1357 Kgs for Assam Govt, 4 Pkg of 78 Kg for ITBP, Guwahati, 57 Pkg of 502 Kg for Govt of Arunachal Pradesh. It had Commodity mainly consisting of Medical Equipment/ Medical Goods.
Similar cargo flight and helicopter services are expected to cover entire NER and adjacent areas as per requirements raised by the state governments.