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Aviation

62 Lifeline Udan flights carry over 15.4 tonnes medical supplies in 5 days

April 1, 2020: As India is fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched ‘Lifeline Udan’ flights for movement of medical and essential supplies across the country.

Passenger freighter of IndiGo at Indore Airport delivering 946.5-kilogram of medical relief materials on March 31.
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Passenger freighter of IndiGo at Indore Airport delivering 946.5-kilogram of medical relief materials on March 31.

April 1, 2020: As India is fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched ‘Lifeline Udan’ flights for the movement of medical and essential supplies across the country. Under this initiative, 62 flights have been operated during the five day period from March 26 to 30, transporting over 15.4 tons of essential medical supplies. 45 out of the 62 flights have been operated by Air India and Alliance Air.

The carriers involved in Lifeline Udan operations include Air India, Alliance Air, Indian Air Force (IAF) and Pawan Hans. Support is being provided by Airports Authority of India (AAI), AAICLAS (cargo and logistics subsidiary of AAI), AI Airports Services (AIASL), PPP airports and private ground handling entities.

Control room and different cargoes
Private carriers like IndiGo, Spicejet and Blue Dart are operating medical cargo flights on a commercial basis. The flights are being coordinated by a control room set up at Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) under the direct supervision of the MoCA leadership. 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.

Cargo hubs and a special focus on North East
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.

A 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.

Website for Lifeline Udan
A website for Lifeline Udan flights has been developed by National Informatics Centre (NIC) and MoCA in a short period to enable seamless coordination between various agencies. The website (link available on MoCA’s website www.civilaviation.gov.in) allows state governments and airlines to upload their consignment and flights details respectively, in advance. The MoCA control room then assigns the cargo consignments to different flights and coordinates with multiple stakeholders until the consignment reaches its destination. There is no service fee levied on the website.

Air India’s air bridge connecting China
On the international front, Air India has established a cargo air-bridge between India and China. Regular cargo flights for transporting critical medical equipment and supplies between the two countries are likely to be operated by Air India from April 3, 2020, onwards.


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