In view of the COVID-19 lockdown in various States, the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) has called for free movement of aviation staff heading to their workplaces.
In a note to Chief Secretaries of all States except Maharashtra where suitable orders were issued, MoCA Joint Secretary Usha Padhee said that considering the prevailing pandemic situation various States Governments had come out with State-specific guidelines on lockdown and definition of exempted/essential services.
Allow Air Cargo Employees
“You will agree that air transportation is an essential service for movement of people in need as well as for cargo. However, it is observed that in few States, the employees involved in aviation and related services are facing problems in reaching out to their workplaces,” she said.
The Hindu in a news report said that the Joint Secretary urged States to issue necessary instructions and ensure free movement of people connected with aviation and related services like airlines, airports, maintenance, cargo, ground services, fuelling, security, catering etc.
Photo-ID for Movement
In Tamil Nadu, police officers said there was no bar on the movement of employees of the aviation industry and related services travelling to airports. Possession of photo identity cards issued by the competent authority was sufficient to permit their movement during the full or partial lockdown.
After the MoCA opened the domestic operations in a calibrated manner post lockdown and increased the lower band of dates on all sectors by 5%, the passengers carried by domestic airlines in January-February 2021 was 1.55 crore which was a drop by 38.13% compared to the corresponding period in the previous year.
Meanwhile, with all adults eligible to get COVID-19 vaccination from May 1, the aviation ministry has requested all state government to consider people working in the aviation sector like airlines, airports, cargo, ground handling, fuelling, security, catering and maintenance as priority group for being given the jabs.
Acting Union aviation secretary T K Pandey on Tuesday wrote to all states to seek priority for them.
“Air transportation is an essential service for unhindered movement of people and cargo. Aviation sector has been in the forefront to extend services of people, essential medical cargo, including vaccines,” the note from Mr. Pandey said.
At a time fewer Indians are flying to limit the risk of coronavirus infections, airlines are focusing on the movement of cargo transport for the world’s largest immunization drive underway, transporting millions of vaccines doses across the length and breadth of the country.
Airlines are reconfiguring aircraft and getting more planes to meet the cargo transport demand, which is expected to swell as vaccinations open up for all adults from May 1.
IndiGo and SpiceJet have dedicated cargo planes for vaccine movement, while other airlines utilise the belly cargo space of their passenger planes. Airlines have also increased their dedicated cargo capacities to move goods, medicines, groceries, and other supplies.