Special flights in Chennai evacuate foreign nationals and cargo flights bring in medical goods
The nearly 40-day lockdown (March 25-May 3) in India as a part of preventive measures against coronavirus COVID-19 means that all domestic and international aircraft operations will remain suspended. But special flights have been evacuating and repatriating foreign nationals, while cargo aircraft have been hauling essential equipment and cargo that help in the country’s fight against the deadly pandemic.
To aid India’s effort against the virus, various types of essential cargo are being brought in by international cargo flights. During the 21-day lockdown period, 42 international flights arrived at the Chennai airport, ferrying critical consignments such as components of ventilators, defibrillators, face masks, thermometers and other personal protection equipment (PPEs). The bulk of the medical goods are imported from China, South Korea, Hong Kong, USA, Taiwan, Malaysia and Germany. On their return journey, the fights ferry goods from India, including perishables and export items among others.
“We are working round-the-clock with adequate staff to facilitate the expeditious export and import of consignments under the prevailing lockdown. Our staff at the seaport, airport, air cargo, courier terminal and foreign post office are functioning with appropriate precautions against COVID-19. We especially ensure rapid clearance of parcels bound for India that contain life-saving drugs, non-contact thermometers, N-95 masks and medical equipment," said Rajan Chaudhary, Commissioner of Customs, Chennai International Airport.
The Chennai customs has facilitated the smooth clearance of passengers who were to travel on 14 such special international flights ferrying expatriates to their respective countries. Over the 21-day lockdown period (Phase 1), 2,173 foreign nationals have travelled to their respective home countries. The relief aircraft was operated by Air India and other foreign carriers to major destinations such as Paris, Frankfurt, Muscat, Bhutan, Singapore and Tokyo.