Headlines April 5, 2020
Praise from Pakistan for Air India’s COVID-19 relief efforts
National carrier Air India, which has operated numerous relief and evacuation flights worldwide amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, has received messages of praise from several countries. The latest nation to join that list is Pakistan.
The Pakistan Air Traffic Control has welcomed Air India flights into its airspace and appreciated the work the airline is doing. On 2 April Air India operated two flights from Mumbai to Frankfurt in Germany. These flights carried relief materials and European nationals stuck in India after the lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 25 March.
“The flight took off from Mumbai at 1430 hours. We entered Pakistan airspace at 1700 hours. We tried to contact Air Traffic Control but did not get a response. So we changed frequencies and (then) managed to contact ATC,” a senior Air India officer said.
The first words from Pakistan ATC surprised the pilots.
“As-salamu alaykum (Peace be upon you). This is Karachi Control welcoming Air India for relief flights,” the Air India officer told NDTV, quoting the ATC.
“Confirm you are operating relief flights for Frankfurt,” the ATC then asked, to which the Air India pilot replied: “Affirm”.
According to Air India officials the Pakistan ATC also told the pilots they were proud of them for operating flights at such difficult times. “We are proud of you that in a pandemic situation you are operating flights, Good Luck!” the ATC said.
“Thank you so much,” the captain of the flight responded.
Over 3,000 novel coronavirus cases have been reported, with at least 75 deaths linked to the virus
The Air India official told NDTV that Pakistan ATC also saved the flight 15 minutes flying time by allowing them to fly closer to Karachi. A short while later, when the Air India planes were entering Iran airspace but were unable to contact the authorities, Pakistan helped again.
“Here also Pakistan helped us and got in touch with Iran and gave our message to them. Normally in such flights we spend maximum number of hours in Iran airspace but Iran also gave us a shorter route,” the Air India official told the media.
The Air India flights have also received praise and welcome from Turkish and German Air Traffic Controllers.
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