The outbreak of the coronavirus has been labelled a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

India’s prime minister ordered all 1.3 billion people in the country to stay inside their homes for three weeks starting 26th March, 2020 — the biggest and most severe action undertaken anywhere to stop the spread of the coronavirus.

As India is subject to a 21-day lockout until April 14 to curb the spread of the coronavirus, all domestic and international commercial passenger flights have been suspended for this period.

However, carriers such as Air India have been authorized by the General Directorate of Civil Aviation (DGCA) to perform special flights to transport test kits, medicines, emergency equipment and Indians from abroad or foreigners visiting their country.

The Indian Government is trying its best to help its nationals stranded in different countries hit by the virus. As the virus started to spread in China in December 2019, India was among the first countries to evacuate its citizens from coronavirus-hit Wuhan. India arranged special flights to bring back its citizens from China.

Evacuation of total number of Indian nationals and other

As of end of the March month, 1031 persons, including 48 nationals from countries such as Maldives, Myanmar, Bangladesh, China, US, Madagascar Sri Lanka, Nepal, South Africa and Peru were evacuated by the Government of India.
890 evacuees from COVID -19 affected countries have been discharged after 14 days isolation and having tested negative as per the protocol.
All of the evacuees have been treated free of cost by the Indian Government.

The Air India pilots have flown to various parts of the world to bring back Indians. They have risked their lives to save the Indians. They were stranded because of the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. They evacuated most of the Indian citizens from China and Italy and will be operating repatriation flights for German citizens to Frankfurt in this week.

The Executives Pilots Association of Air India has written a letter to the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) mentioning about the substandard ill-fitting of Personal Protective Equipment(PPE) provided to the pilots and cabin crew the tear easily on recue flights.
To save the lives of people and rescue them from dangerous environment, it is important to be responsible and well aware about the equipments available. The pilots and cabin crew must have well trusted and strong equipments for rescue and safety. The letter also stated that the pilots are not provided with sufficient quantities of sanitizers. Giving instances of defects, the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) said shoe covers have failed in as little as 10 minutes, gloves in 3 hrs, and the hazmat suits have been ill fitting and available only in limited quantity.

The compliant letter written to Ministry of Civil Aviation further stated

“Our pilots and cabin crew are being provided substandard, ill-fitting and flimsy Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that tear/disintegrate easily on rescue flights. Sanitizers are not provided in sufficient quantities and disinfection processes are short of industry best practices. Every resource of the AI medical services that currently exists (e.g. doctors, ambulances, infrastructure) be made available 24×7 to support the flying crew and their families for consultations, coordination with respective State Health Departments, COVID testing and treatment – as may be required for affected crew members should such a need occur. This is the minimum level of support expected from an organisation that sends its employees to a bio-hazard frontline. There is no additional insurance policy for our pilots or cabin crew to cover any COVID-19 related risk. Our flying related allowances, comprising 70% of our total emoluments, remain unpaid since January 2020.
To add insult to injury, we have also recently been informed by our management of a substantial pay cut, while in the midst of the above mentioned COVID rescue operations!”

The motive of the letter was to explain about the problems and hardships faced by the pilots and cabin crew of Air India during the rescue operations held by them to the Air India management and the Ministry of Civil Association. It is expected that the pilots and the cabin crew should be provided with proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). They should get the required medical facilities and sanitization services.

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