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Relief flights: AI follows stringent norms, keeps premium cabin empty

Ashwini Phadnis New Delhi | Updated on April 06, 2020 Published on April 05, 2020

Air India kept the first and business class sections on the Boeing 777 and the business class section in the Boeing 787 aircraft chartered to evacuate foreigners out of India as a precautionary measure against the contagious coronavirus. In addition, the middle-seat gap was also maintained in the economy class where the foreign nationals being evacuated were seated.

In addition, passengers boarded and deboarded these special charter flights from doors which were away from the premium classes on these two aircraft to ensure sterilisation of the plane. In the last few weeks, several foreign governments have chartered Air India aircraft to get their nationals home including the Canadian, Irish, German and French governments. In all, the carrier is undertaking 18 charter flights to these four countries. The aircraft mostly flew back empty.

While the crew wore Personal Protective Equipment right through the flight, nobody was allowed to enter the aircraft unless they had a mask on. While on some flights food boxes were given to passengers at the time of boarding, on other flights boxes were kept on the seats. Water bottles were also provided with the bottles being replenished from time to time and were kept in a designated area of the aircraft. The crew members who came close to the passengers did not mingle with each other. On their return, the crew was quarantined.

Some of the crew on these evacuation flights carried food from home although food was also picked from the cities where the charter flights landed.

In many ways what is being on these charter flights is a repeat of the two evacuation flights that Air India undertook to Wuhan on January 31 and February 2 to get Indians back. The two flights got back over 650 Indians and nationals of some other countries from the epicenter of the corona outbreak.

With a Boeing 747 double decker aircraft being used in the Wuhan evacuation, the upper deck was isolated for the cabin crew operating the flight, while the first-class section in the front of the aircraft was isolated for doctors and engineers.

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Published on April 05, 2020
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