Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) has contacted national carrier Air India to operate 10 charter flights to ferry coronavirus related medical items such as hand-sanitisers and masks from China. Sources told BusinessToday.In that air freight charges for the shipments are yet to be negotiated.
Apart from Reliance, a few other companies are also planning to import medical equipment from China and are discussing their plans with Civil Aviation Ministry.
A questionnaire sent to Reliance Industries did not elicit any response.
While domestic carriers, Air India being in the forefront of carrying medical equipments and other essential items, have been operating charter flights to move cargo locally this will be first time any Indian carrier would be bringing supplies of coronavirus-related medical supplies from China.
Ministry of Civil Aviation has been co-coordinating with states and airlines for operating charter cargo flights.
As part of India's war against COVID-19, the Ministry of Civil Aviation has launched "Lifeline Udan" flights for movement of medical and essential supplies across the country and beyond. A total of 74 flights have been operated as of April 1, 2020 for transporting medical cargo across the country.
Various carriers have transported a total of 37.63 tonnes of cargo. Domestic cargo operators Blue Dart and SpicejeXpress are operating cargo flights on a commercial basis.
Government sources said that Air India had been operating cargo flights at cost. It has moved cargo for state governments as well as PSUs transporting essential items to far-flung places in North East and Andaman & Nicobar Islands.
One of the officials said that the proposed flight to China for bringing essential medical items would be launched after getting necessary regulatory approval from Chinese authorities.
Donations and help have poured in from corporates, celebrities and individuals to fight the Covid-19 crisis which has brought the wheel of economy to a complete halt and threatens to cripple the entire system.
While nearly 1,900 people have been infected with the deadly virus in the country with total casualty crossing 50, there is fear of the numbers surging.
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