Low-cost airline SpiceJet on Thursday operated its first cargo flight to Singapore to bring back critical medical equipment and other supplies to deal with COVID-19 pandemic in India.
The airlines will operate its second cargo flight tomorrow - April 10 - carrying medical supplies from Singapore to Bengaluru.
Ajay Singh, chairman and managing director, SpiceJet, in a statement said, “SpiceJet is putting its freighter and passenger aircraft to maximum use to carry medical and other vital supplies in these difficult times and is firmly committed and honoured to be part of the government’s ‘Lifeline Udan’ initiative. We will be operating another cargo freighter from Singapore to Bengaluru tomorrow."
Singh added that SpiceJet’s freighters have been flying non-stop carrying vital supplies to and from Hong Kong, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and host of other places including South-East Asia.
"Since the lockdown began, we have operated around 200 domestic and international cargo flights, transporting more than 1,500 tons of cold chain medical supplies, medicines, medical devices for various state governments, medical and pharma companies along with essential supplies," the statement said.
The Union government has suspended all domestic and international flights due to COVID-19 pandemic, but to maintain uninterrupted supply of essential commodities, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has allowed cargo flights, offshore helicopter operations, medical evacuation flights and special flights.
According to data compiled by the civil aviation ministry, total cargo transported by "Lifeline UDAN" flights during the lockdown is around 248 tonnes. 167 flights have been operated till date, covering 1,50,006km.
SpiceJet operated the country’s first cargo-on-seat flight carrying vital supplies in the passenger cabin on April 7. Since then, the airline has been regularly using its Boeing 737 aircraft to carry cargo in the passenger cabin.
“SpiceXpress, SpiceJet’s dedicated cargo arm, has been regularly transporting surgical supplies, sanitisers and face masks, and providing doorstep deliveries of essential supplies, medicines and medical equipment in Bengaluru, Patna, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Raipur, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Visakhapatnam, Srinagar, Thiruvananthapuram, Vadodara, Kochi, Guwahati, Jammu, and Lucknow, among other cities. This is first time we operated freighter services between India and Singapore to bring in essential supplies related to COVID-19,” Singh said.
The airline has also operated special cargo flights to Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and other countries, taking fresh fruits and vegetables and helping Indian farmers maintain continuity of their supply chains in addition to operating dedicated services from Chennai and Visakhapatnam to Surat and Kolkata.
On March 26, SpiceJet helped transport an emergency consignment of IR Thermometers, required to detect COVID-19, to Kolkata from Hong Kong. On March 27, the airline operated a special charter flight from Delhi to Coimbatore on government's request carrying a Hazmat suit that would help local authorities replicate and start local manufacturing.
On March 29, SpiceJet operated a special flight between Delhi and Jodhpur to facilitate transportation of 136 Indian passengers evacuated from COVID-19-hit Iran to a government quarantine facility in the city. On April 2, SpiceJet transported 1,000 Coronavirus Rapid Test Kits to Kozhikode from Pune.
During the lockdown period, essential medical supplies including consignments of ICMR, state-owned HLL Lifecare Ltd and others are continuously being delivered across the country.
Domestic public and private airline operators such as Air India, IAF, Pawan Hans, Indigo and Blue Dart transport medicines and other essential supplies to Srinagar, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Bhubaneswar and other regions of the country.
Ministry of Civil Aviation is also coordinating for delivery of cargo of Ministry of Health, Ministry of Textiles, Department of Posts, so that the collective purpose of delivering the essential medical supplies to people in all parts of the country is done.