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Airlines swing into action as vaccine transport commences across the country

Airlines swing into action as vaccine transport commences across the country

The country's civil aviation sector swung into action on Tuesday for providing expeditious logistical support to the roll-out of India's mega anti-Covid vaccination drive. Accordingly, the operation conducted seamlessly all across the country commenced from Pune, the base of Serum Institute of India, manufacturers of the Covishield vaccine.

Subsequently, the precious, temperature controlled cargo first travelled via trucks to Pune airport. Subsequently, nine flights operated by various domestic airlines ferried 56.5 lakh doses from Pune to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow and Chandigarh. "Today @airindiain@flyspicejet @goairlinesindia&@IndiGo6E will operate 9 flights from Pune with 56.5 lakh doses to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow & Chandigarh," Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said in a tweet.

Last week, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) issued guidelines to airlines and other aircraft operators for transportation of Covid-19 vaccines. As per the guidelines, authorised airlines can carry the vaccine packed in dry ice in the passenger or the cargo cabin. The circular noted that the carriage of Covid-19 vaccines from the manufacturing units to the place of administration gains significant importance especially in the light of the high expectations of the governments, healthcare personnel and the general public.

Sector wise, national carrier Air India ferried the consignment of 276,000 vaccine doses weighing approximately 700 kg, from Pune to Ahmedabad. On its part, IndiGo transported 900 kg of vaccine from Pune to Chandigarh and Lucknow via flight 6E 6515 and 6E 882 respectively today. From Wednesday, it will transport vaccines from Mumbai to other cities, basis the allocation. Besides, GoAir operated two flights from Pune to Chennai ferrying 708,000 doses of the vaccine.

"While our efforts to alleviate the complexities of the vaccine movement given the scale of the consignments and logistics, we are taking every possible step to support the institutions and our stakeholders to reach the vaccine in all possible corners of the country," said GoAir CEO Kaushik Khona. "This responsibility of vaccine shipment recognises the efforts taken by GoAir towards developing its cargo services for critical vaccine movement and motivates us to take the lead in order to remain the preferred choice for the industry."

A BIAL spokesperson said that 54 boxes of the vaccine, consisting of approximately 650,000 doses arrived at Bengaluru airport from Pune "at 1145 hours on Tuesday, January 12, 2021". Budget airline SpiceJet carried the first consignment of Covid-19 vaccine from Pune to Delhi. The first consignment of Covishield consisted of 2,64,000 doses from Pune to Delhi on SpiceJet flight SG 8937. Subsequently, the Delhi airport received the first consignment of Covid vaccine.

"Today, we have received the first batch of Covid-19 vaccine at our airport. Temperature-controlled facility, ranging from -20 Deg C to +25 Deg C, at our two Cargo terminals can efficiently and safely handle these temperature sensitive vaccines," said CEO-DIAL Videh Kumar Jaipuriar. "We have 'Cool Chambers and Cool Dollies' to maintain temperature required for these vaccines at the cargo terminal and during transit between aircraft and terminal or vice versa. Our both the terminals can handle around 5.7 million vials in a day."

According to Jaipuriar, DIAL has synergised and collaborated with all the stakeholders including exporters, importers, logistics companies, freight forwarders or agents, government, airlines, cargo terminal operators, to ensure faster turnaround of the vaccines. Furthermore, SpiceJet transported multiple vaccine consignments from Pune to different Indian cities including 276,000 doses to Guwahati, 996,000 doses to Kolkata, 3,72,000 doses to Hyderabad, 480,000 doses to Bhubaneswar, 648,000 doses to Bengaluru, 552,000 doses to Patna and 408,000 doses to Vijayawada on Tuesday.

"On Day One, SpiceJet is shipping 4 million doses of Covishield vaccine weighing close to 11 tonnes to eight different cities which include Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Patna, Vijayawada and Delhi," said Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet.

On Wednesday, Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport will begin with its first domestic distribution of the Covishield vaccine consignment from early morning to tomorrow and cater to a minimum of 16 destinations. India's mega anti-Covid vaccination campaign is expected to commence from January 16.