02 April 2020
New Delhi: Flag carrier Air India has entered into commercial charter flight agreements with four countries to repatriate their citizens.
According to Air India CMD Rajiv Bansal, the airline has entered into agreements with France, Canada, Germany and Ireland to ferry their citizens back home. The airline will operate 18 flights under these agreements.
"We were approached by these countries' embassies for charter flights to repatriate their citizens. These agreements are on commercial basis," Bansal said in an online press conference of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Bansal added that after ferrying the passengers, the aircraft will return without any passengers on-board.
On the establishment of India-China 'Air-bridge' for transportation of cargo, Bansal said that the airline has obtained regulatory permission from Chinese authorities to operate flights to Shanghai on April 4 and 5. Subsequently, the airline has also applied for other dates such as April 6, 7, 8 and 9 to operate cargo flights.
The airline will also be operating cargo flights to Hong Kong.
On the domestic front, the Air India Group has been transporting essential cargos throughout the country. Accordingly, the airline has operated 62 cargo flights between March 26 and April 1.
It has also been instrumental in rescuing stranded Indians, mainly students and pilgrims, from China, Japan and Europe.
Besides, the Air India CMD said that the airline has released the January flying allowances of its pilots. These allowances make up a substantial proportion of the operating crews' monthly pay.
In addition, he said that none of the airline's employees (ground staff), who are engaged in the cargo operations, have contracted Covid-19 and that the company is taking full precaution and providing personal protective equipment (PPE) to its employees.