A 189-seater SpiceJet plane flew from Chennai to Colombo with seafarers

Mumbai | Updated on May 30, 2020

A 189-seater SpiceJet plane with 22 Indian seafarers and one manager of SeaTeam Management (India) Pvt Ltd flew from Chennai to Colombo today in the costliest crew joining plan undertaken since the pandemic halted staff swap on board ships globally.

From Colombo, these 22 crew and the new shipbuilding site manager stationed in South Korea will travel to Incheon to take over a newly constructed ship owned by Frontline Ltd, the world’s largest oil tanker shipping company, based in Hamilton, Bermuda and controlled by shipping tycoon John Fredriksen. SeaTeam is the Indian ship management unit of Frontline.

On the return trip, the plane will carry 15 stranded seafarers (working for other companies) from Colombo to Chennai, making it the first chartered flight to return with seafarers since Indian ship management companies chose this route to facilitate crew change due to the stoppage of international flights to and from India.

The plane chartering cost is borne entirely by SeaTeam which manages some 50 ships of Frontline.

Captain G Ramaswamy, Chief Executive Officer of SeaTeam Management (India) said that about 200 Indian seafarers have to be signed off from ships managed by it by the middle of June. He said that the flight was made possible by the support extended by the directorate general of shipping, while other ministries and government agencies did not understand how crew change happens.

The large number of empty seats was a strain on the owners/managers. “This can be made efficient by creating a dashboard so that more people know the schedule and can plan accordingly,” said a seafarer.

More ship management companies should come forward and share a chartered flight, then only cost will be bearable, said another seafarer.

Published on May 30, 2020

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