Lifeline Udan: Air India to operate cargo flights to China to get medical equipment


NEW DELHI: Air India will operate regular cargo flights between India and China from Friday (April 3) to transport “critical medical equipment and supplies”. The airline will establish a “cargo air-bridge” with China for the purpose.
The Air India (AI) Group, parent AI and regional subsidiary Alliance Air, have operated 45 of the 62 cargo “lifeline Udan flights” that ferried 15.4 tonnes of essential medical supplies to fight coronavirus within the country in the five days from March 26 to 30, said the aviation ministry.
Private carriers like IndiGo, SpiceJet and Blue Dart flew some medical cargo flights on a commercial basis.
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.
Indian Air Force and Pawan Hans also operated some flights to ferry this essential material.
“The lifeline Udan flights are planned using a hub and spoke model. Cargo hubs have been established at Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Kolkata. Lifeline Udan flights connect these hubs to each other and therefrom to different parts of the country… Special focus has been on the North East Region (NER), island territories and the hill states. NER is being connected by Lifeline Udan through the regional hubs in Kolkata, Bagdogra and Guwahati. These in turn are connected to cities like Dibrugarh, Shillong, Aizawl, Agartala, Imphal and Dimapur using turboprops and helicopters,” said the ministry statement.
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. There is no service fee levied on the website,” the ministry said.

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