Before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the three-week
lockdown at 8:00 pm on March 24, freighter movement—without any
restrictions—had been allowed. Soon after the announcement, the
government has accorded permission to private airlines to operate passenger
planes only with cargo.
Now Comes One-Time
To facilitate movement of medicines and essential goods (in
the lockdown the railways have been stopped and so has road transport)
that have been getting stuck due to a blanket ban by states on transport
of goods, the government has set up the Logistics and Suppliers committee.
The committee has ordered that transporters be allowed to
move goods through state and police check-posts with a one-time clearance.
Heading the committee are Civil Aviation Secretary
(the top bureaucrat in the aviation ministry) Pradeep Singh Kharola (above
right) and Pharma Secretary Dr. P. D. Vaghela (above left).
In addition, the civil aviation ministry has put in place
an air cargo management group which will look into the movement of essential
commodities across the country.
“An Air cargo management group for COVID-19 has been
created with a dedicated team for smooth movement of cargo.
“Ministry is adopting a hub & spoke approach to
move essential commodities across the country,” said the Ministry
of Civil Aviation.
It also pointed out that “private airlines/freighters
have been co-opted to link the request of States/UTs for smooth movement
of essential items.
“Additionally, ATRs of Alliance Air have been kept on
standby at Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Bengaluru, and Hyderabad,” the
Hyderabad Airport Shines
Even as the country battles shortages and clears supply lines,
Hyderabad Airport’s air cargo unit is keeping the vital link of
essential supplies fully alive and operational.
The gateway described as an essential service, GMR Hyderabad
Airport has been working round the clock in close coordination with the
Customs, Ground Handlers, Forwarders, CHAs (Customs House Agents), Regulators,
State Police, Cargo Trade associations, to keep the critical chain of
essential supplies like medicines, medical equipment, pharma material,
Currently, GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo is handling more than 100
tons of export and import cargo daily.
Of this, over 70 percent of the consignment comprises pharma
and essential products.
Hyderabad is currently handling 11 freighters weekly along
with some special cargo charters, which connect Hyderabad with all major
international destinations in the United States of America, European countries,
Middle East, Africa, Far East, etc. are moving emergency supplies.
On the job are 200-odd dedicated staff on every shift.
Despite the cross border lockdown, with the help of regulators,
domestic cargo from Hyderabad Airport is flying to the southern part of
the country, including Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra,
Tamil Nadu, and Kerala, and also bridging the other states viz. Madhya
Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, among others with vital cargo supplies.