Mysore/Mysuru: The outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent nation-wide lockdown has stalled domestic and commercial flights. Still the skies are buzzing with regular cargo flights to transport critical medical equipment and supplies.
Several small airports in India including the Mysore Airport at Mandakalli have been earmarked as Lifeline UDAN Airports that will facilitate transport of medical cargo and other essential supplies across India at the time of the Covid-19 crisis. These small airports that were operating flights under Ude Desh ka Aam Nagarik (UDAN) scheme have become a hub of medical transport in a war-like situation.
According to a press communiqué released by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) yesterday, as many as 116 flights and choppers have already been operated by Air India, Alliance Air, IAF, Pawan Hans and private carriers under Lifeline UDAN.
Plane lands at Mysore Airport
As per plan, one Air India Dornier plane landed at Mysore Airport at 11.45 am today and carried medical cargo. However, the details of the cargo and the shipping location have not been disclosed by the Airport authorities. The aircraft left Mysuru at 1 pm.
The Civil Aviation Ministry says that 79 of these flights have been operated by Air India and Alliance Air. Cargo transported till date is around 161 tonnes. Aerial distance covered by Lifeline Udan flights till date is over 1,12,178 kms. 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 ton.
COVID-19 related reagents
The Lifeline Udan cargo includes COVID-19 related reagents, enzymes, medical equipment, testing kits, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), masks, gloves and other accessories required by Corona warriors across the country.
The Ministry has granted special permission to store cargo in the passenger seating area and overhead cabins,
with due precautions. 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.
Apart from the Government-owned carriers, domestic cargo operators SpiceJet, Blue Dart and Indigo are also operating cargo flights on a commercial basis. The National Informatics Centre (NIC) developed a website for Lifeline Udan flights in a record three days to enable coordination between various agencies.
The website allows State Governments and airlines to upload their consignment and flights details respectively, in advance. The Aviation Ministry Control Room then assigns the cargo consignments to different flights and coordinates with multiple stakeholders till the consignment reaches its destination, the Ministry said.