SpiceJet operated the country’s first cargo-on-seat flight carrying vital supplies in the passenger cabin and belly space domestically from Delhi (DEL) to Chennai (MAA) today.
The airline deployed a B737 NG aircraft after gaining approval from the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The aircraft will do five rotations today ensuring that vital supplies are delivered in the shortest possible time.
Ajay Singh, chairman & managing director, SpiceJet, says: “In these times of unprecedented crisis, SpiceJet is proud to play its part in ensuring that the supply chain remains intact. Since the lockdown began, we have carried more than 1,400 tonnes of cargo operating around 200 domestic and international cargo flights.
Today, for the first time in the country, we used a passenger aircraft to transport cargo where in addition to the belly space the passenger cabin was used to safely carry essential supplies. We are honoured to be a part of the government’s ‘Lifeline Udan’ initiative. We have also put our five freighters to maximum use to transport cold chain medical supplies, medicines, medical devices for various state governments, medical and pharma companies,” Singh adds.
Special seat covers made from flame-proof material were used to cover the seats and the cargo on seat was secured with restraints. To ensure optimum utilisation of space, the overhead bins were also used.
The aircraft flew from Delhi to Chennai and from Chennai to Surat (STV) in Gujarat state before returning to Chennai. The aircraft will operate from Chennai to Mumbai (BOM) and from Mumbai to Delhi later today with cargo on-board.
SpiceXpress, SpiceJet’s dedicated cargo arm, has been regularly transporting surgical supplies, sanitisers, face masks, etc. and providing doorstep deliveries of essential supplies, medicines and medical equipment in Bengaluru, Patna, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Raipur, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Visakhapatnam, Srinagar, Thiruvananthapuram, Vadodara, Kochi, Guwahati, Jammu, Lucknow among other cities.
SpiceJet has transported over 4,000 Coronavirus Rapid Test Kits to Kozhikode from Mumbai.
On 26 March, SpiceJet helped transport an emergency consignment of IR Thermometers, required to detect COVID-19, to Kolkata from Hong Kong. On 27 March, the airline operated a special charter flight from Delhi to Coimbatore on Government’s request carrying a Hazmat suit that would help local authorities replicate and start local manufacturing.
On 29 March, SpiceJet operated a special flight between Delhi and Jodhpur to facilitate transportation of 136 Indian passengers evacuated from COVID-19 hit Iran to a Government quarantine facility in the city.
The airline has also operated special cargo flights to Abu Dhabi, Kuwait and other countries taking fresh fruits and vegetables and helping Indian farmers maintain continuity of their supply chains in addition to operating dedicated services from Chennai & Vishakhapatnam to Surat & Kolkata.
The airline operates a fleet of 82 B737, two A320, 32 Bombardier Q-400s and five B737 freighters.