New Delhi: Air India, which is staring at disinvestment, has undertaken various evacuation operations before, but the Wuhan flights were the first of its kind as it was a medical emergency. A total of 647 Indians, as well 7 Maldivians, were evacuated from the Chinese city at the epicentre of the coronavirus epidemic. Air India’s captain Amitabh Singh, who is the director of operations, spearheaded the mission. Also Read - PM Modi Lauds Air India Crew, Health Officials For Safely Evacuating Indians From Coronavirus-hit Wuhan
A total of 34 people, including 20-member Air India crew, doctors and support staff, were there in each flight. The carrier had 15 cabin crew and five cockpit crew, including Singh. “We conquered our fears” as we did not know what to expect, an Air India personnel, who was on board both the flights, said. The entire crew was sent to a seven-day isolation period following the operation. Also Read - Human-to-Human Transmission of Coronavirus: How Safe Are Air India Crew, Cabin Members?
“This is a humanitarian flight. We are here to help in this hour of need and take you back to India… Keep your movement to the minimum and crew will come only if someone is unwell,” These were among the announcements on board before the flight took off for Delhi. Also Read - Coronavirus Outbreak: 324 Indians in Second Batch of Air India Flight From Wuhan Land in Delhi
“It was a dead city when we reached there,” Singh said. “It was an eerie feeling. When we were landing, all roads and buildings were well lit. Everything was normal but there was no human being around,” he said.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi appreciated the high-level commitment to duty showcased by the officials of Air India and the Ministry of Health who conducted evacuation operation of the stranded Indians in Wuhan, according to an official release.
(With PTI Inputs)