While passenger air traffic has come to a standstill since the beginning of the lockdown. Cargo movement has become essential for transporting essential and other goods into and across the country.
While India has only one domestic cargo-only airline BlueDart (SpiceJet also operates three Boeing 737 freighters under the name SpiceXpress), every passenger flight carries an average of around a ton of cargo. With the grounding of all passenger flights, the amount of cargo capacity has greatly reduced.
This shutdown has led to a few firsts with Bluedart operating its first international flights and the passenger airlines operating cargo-only flights, between 24 March and 3 May – SpiceJet, Indigo and Vistara operated 883 cargo-only flights.
|Airline||No of Flights||Cargo Carried (Tons)|
Aside from these flights, Air India and Alliance air have operated 265 flights. These flights were under the ‘Lifeline Udan’ being operated under Ministry of Civil Aviation to transport essential supplies to remote parts of the country using Air India, Alliance Air and the Indian Air Force. A total of 443 flights under the program have transported 821.07 tons of cargo.
The carriers have been flying to South-East Asia to lift medical equipment and supplies, Air India carried 930 tons, BlueDart carried 114 tons from China and SpiceJet transported 204 tons of cargo from China and another 16 tons from Hong Kong and Singapore.
Pawan Hans is transporting medical cargo and patients in Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh and the North East and has transported 2.27 tons of cargo.