As India continues to fight a tsunami of new cases, airlines have stepped up to provide transport and logistics. From transporting healthcare workers for free to flying invaluable oxygen tanks, airlines have been flying internationally and domestically to boost medical supplies. Let’s find out more about how airlines are helping tackle India’s COVID-19 wave.
Currently, the most pressing need across India is a boost in oxygen supplies across the country. To facilitate this, airlines have begun flying special cargo flights to countries or companies offering or selling oxygen. Considering planes are the fastest way to move cargo, airlines have been stepping up.
SpiceXpress, the cargo arm of SpiceJet, transported 1,000 oxygen concentrators from Hong Kong yesterday, according to Mint. In addition to this flight, the carrier brought in another 800 from Hong Kong last week as well. The airline has plans to fly in as many as 20,000 oxygen concentrators from vendors across the globe as soon as possible due to the demand in India.
In a statement, CEO Ajay Singh said,
“Considering the current situation across the country, our focus is to airlift as many oxygen concentrators, BiPAPs and other medical devices as possible to cater to the increasing demand. SpiceJet and SpiceHealth are collaborating actively to contribute in our country’s dedicated efforts to fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.”
With new emergency hospitals and emergency facilities being set up every day, airlines are offering to help fly frontline healthcare workers. Vistara is currently offering all doctors and nurses working for government organizations free tickets across India. Depending on seat availability, the healthcare workers can book any available flights when traveling for service. This includes a return flight once the duty is over.
In addition to offering tickets, Vistara also plans to work with government hospitals and facilities to move cargo across its network. This includes any urgent medical equipment required and is subject to available space on each flight.
Currently, the Indian Air Force (IAF) remains the largest operator of medical supply flights. The IAF is flying in oxygen cylinders from Dubai, Singapore, Germany, and many other countries to cope with the surge.
One of the sharpest tools to fight the pandemic has been vaccines. To this end, nearly every Indian airline has been flying COVID-19 vaccines from the Serum Insitute’s Pune mega hub and from Bharat Biotech’s facility in Hyderabad. Currently, IndiGo has emerged as the largest vaccine transporter across the country, accounting for 36.5% of all vaccines flown as of April 12th.
For now, India continues to add record levels for daily cases, further pressuring the buckling healthcare system. However, support from airlines and companies is proving crucial to saving as many lives as possible.