2 min read.Updated: 12 Jan 2021, 10:42 AM ISTRhik Kundu
As per DGCA guidelines, all scheduled operators authorised to carry dangerous goods can carry vaccines packed in dry ice, while non-scheduled operators, including aircraft engaged in general aviation, are required to seek specific approval
NEW DELHI: Indian airlines, including Air India Limited, IndiGo, SpiceJet, and GoAir, will on Tuesday operate as many as nine flights from Pune to different cities carrying 56.5 lakh doses of coronavirus vaccines, civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri said.
Vaccine doses will be delivered in New Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata, Guwahati, Shillong, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Vijayawada, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Bengaluru, Lucknow, and Chandigarh, Puri said on microblogging platform Twitter.
The first two flights for vaccine transport on Tuesday morning were operated by SpiceJet and GoAir, Puri added.
No-frills carrier SpiceJet, which carried the first batch of coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday, will ferry multiple consignments to different cities including Guwahati, Kolkata, Hyderabad, Bhubaneswar, Bengaluru, Patna and Vijayawada through the day.
"The first consignment of Covishield consisting of 34 boxes and weighing 1,088 kg was carried from Pune to Delhi on SpiceJet flight 8937," SpiceJet's chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said in a statement.
"Today marks the beginning of a long and decisive phase in India’s fight against the pandemic and SpiceJet is proud to assist in the biggest vaccination drive in the history of mankind."
National carrier Air India will carry 2,76,000 doses weighing about 700 kg from Pune to Ahmedabad on Tuesday, the airline said on Twitter.
Spokespersons of Air India, IndiGo, and GoAir were not immediately available for comments.
Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL) operated New Delhi Airport on Tuesday received the first batch of covid-19 vaccine, the company said in a statement.
"Temperature-controlled facilities, ranging from -20 Degree C to +25 Degree C, at our two Cargo terminals can efficiently and safely handle these temperature sensitive vaccines. Our both terminals can handle around 5.7 million vials in a day," it added.
Mint had last week reported that Indian airlines, which are gearing up to deliver millions of doses of the shots aimed at ending the pandemic, are coordinating logistics with the vaccine producers, quoting a senior civil aviation ministry official, who added that airlines will use their cargo facilities to distribute vaccines.
Meanwhile, India's civil aviation regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), has issued guidelines to airlines and other aircraft operators for transportation of Covid-19 vaccines.
As per the guidelines, all scheduled operators authorised to carry dangerous goods can carry vaccines packed in dry ice, while non-scheduled operators, including aircraft engaged in general aviation, are required to seek specific approval before commencing such operations.
While dry ice with temperature varying from -8 Degree C to -70 Degree C is affordable for transportation of vaccines, the DGCA has added that all operators engaged in vaccine transportation would need to establish that maximum quantity of dry ice can be loaded in cargo holds or passenger cabins if passenger aircraft are deployed for vaccine transportation.