First AI Express Flight from Muscat to Arrive TODAY at MIA Piloted by Mangalorean Capt Michael Saldanha

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First Air India Express Flight No IX 817/818 from Muscat to Arrive TODAY ( 20 May) at Mangalore International Airport MIA Piloted by Mangalorean Capt Michael Saldanha, joined in the cabin by First Officer Venu Madhav, and Cabin Crew members, namely- Clayton D’souza from Pune, having ancestral roots in Mangaluru; Arun Mohan Kumar from Panambur area, Mangaluru; Himani and Siddhant Kadam

Mangaluru: After Team Mangalorean was the FIRST one to publish the report (Ref :Mangalorean Capt Michael Saldanha Piloting the Air India Express Flight Dubai to Kochi with 177 Indians) where Mangalorean Commander (Captain) Michael Saldanha Piloted the Air India Express IX 344 Flight Dubai to Kozhikode with 177 Indians, on 6 May 2020- and Team Mangalorean is proud to announce that Capt Michael joined in the cabin by First Officer Venu Madhav, and Cabin Crew members- Clayton D’Souza from Pune, having ancestral roots in Mangaluru; Arun Mohan Kumar from Panambur area, Mangaluru; Himani and Siddhant Kadam, will be piloting the First AI Express Flight from Muscat to Arrive TODAY at MIA. Capt Michael Saldanha is the son of Placid and Freida Saldanha of Valencia, Mangaluru.

This AI Express flight left Mangaluru Airport to Muscat at 10.30 am- and will return back from Muscat later today. It is learnt that the plane will carry Kannadigas from Muscat. This is the first plane to arrive from Muscat to Mangaluru- and will fly directly from Muscat with 63 people from the coast. The flight will have 178 passengers, of which 115 passengers among them including two infants will alight in Bengaluru- after which the plane carrying remaining 63 passengers will land in Mangalore International Airport. The flight crew have been given training by doctors and nurses on the steps to be taken while donning and doffing personal protective equipment (PPE) suits, infection control practices to be followed in-flight, and also the management of anticipated health emergencies during the journey. The crew members onboard these repatriation flights are fully protected with protective gear, including Personal Protective Equipment, to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus.

Commander (Capt) Michael Saldanha

Earlier, two flights from Dubai, one on 12 May and the other on 18 May 18 with 177 and 178 passengers respectively landed at MIA, as part of India’s efforts to airlift thousand of its citizens stranded abroad under its “Vande Bharat Mission”. Those under quarantine arranged by the government at various places, including hotels, would be screened after seven days and will be allowed to go for home quarantine if they did not test positive. All arrangements, including accommodation for quarantine and thermal screening at airports, have been made. Eight aircraft, 60 pilots, and 120 cabin crew would be utilized for the first phase of the evacuation, as per official sources.

Seen in photo L-R : First Officer Venu Madhav and Capt Michael Saldanha

The Indian expatriate community of approximately 3.42 million is reportedly the largest ethnic community in the UAE constituting roughly about 30 per cent of the country”s population, according to information available on the Indian Embassy website. India imposed a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the coronavirus in the country, grounding all international flights since mid-March. Under the repatriation plan, the government will be facilitating the return of Indian nationals stranded abroad on compelling grounds in a phased manner.

Speaking to Team Mangalorean Commander (Capt) Michael Saldanha said “My first experience on this “Vande Bharat Mission”, was a memorable one after I landed 177 Indian repatriates safely at the Kozhikode airport on 6 May, and I was totally immersed in a feeling of patriotism. I am a go-getter, always ready and will accept the gauntlet for such operations even in future. The happiness I felt when I landed back in the country with these 177 people who were eagerly waiting to come back to their homeland, is beyond words”.

” Before accepting the task on this Mission, I was not under any kind of pressure for participating in airlift operation and that many were apprehensive because of risk involved. I volunteered for the work since I felt that I owed this duty for the countrymen. We had all the required training from experienced doctors to handle situations on board. We all wore the protective gear, and I cannot forget all the appreciations and congratulations from the passengers for landing them safely. And now I am once again thrilled and excited to handle yet another flight today, carrying 178 Indian repatriates from Muscat. I have gone through all the medical tests prior to this flight, and I am all set to bring back my countrymen safe. I am ready for more such flights under the ‘Vande Bharat Mission’, and I have all the blessings from my grandfather, Late Col J W Soraes, who had fought during the second world war and 1962 war against China, and also from my parents, relatives and well-wishers” added Capt Michael.

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