Mangalorean Capt Michael Saldanha Piloting the Air India Express Flight Dubai to Kozhikode with 177 Indians
- Mangalorean Commander (Captain) Michael Saldanha Piloting the Air India Express IX 344 Flight Dubai to Kochi with 177 Indians. Capt. Saldanha on command is joined in the cabin by First Officer Akhilesh Kumar and Cabin Crew members comprising Vineet Shamil, Abdul Rouf, Raseena P and Rijo Johnson. Air India Express IX 344 on Dubai- Kozhikode sector which left Dubai at 5 pm is scheduled to arrive at Kozhikode at 10:30 PM tonight. Capt Michael Saldanha is the son of Placid and Freida Saldanha of Valencia, Mangaluru.
Mangaluru: Flights from UAE carrying over 350 Indian nationals took off for Kerala- The first Air India Express flight IX 452 took off from Abu Dhabi to Kochi at 4.15 pm and reach the destination at 9.40 pm, while the other to Kozhikode departed from Dubai at 5 pm and will arrive at 10.40 pm. The two flights from the UAE carrying 177 Indian nationals left for Kerala on Thursday, as India began its biggest ever repatriation exercise to bring back its citizens stranded abroad amidst the international travel lockdown over the coronavirus pandemic. Twelve airline staff, including four pilots, 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.
It is learnt that Air India crew members on board the repatriation flights were fully protected with protective gear, including Personal Protective Equipment, to reduce the risk of contracting coronavirus. Passengers started arriving at Abu Dhabi and Dubai airports as early as 9.30 am this morning ( Thursday). Some of the passengers were seen carrying the Indian flags. Arrangements have been made with the central warehousing corporation for disinfecting the aircraft and its employees are given a special pass for access to the airports. Meanwhile, Indian Navy’s INS Jalashwa, also reached the Maldives to bring back stranded Indian citizens.
India is set to airlift thousand of its citizens stranded abroad under its “Vande Bharat Mission”. Today, two flights will arrive in Kerala’s Cochin and Kozhikode airport. The flight that took off from Dubai for Kozhikode with 177 passengers on board, also had one lady passenger who is to attend final rites of her mother after one passenger dropped out due to immigration issue, as per a tweet by the Consulate General of India, Dubai. It’s a proud moment for Mangaloreans, that a son of the soil Capt Michael Saldanha, son of Placid and Freida Saldanha of Valencia, Mangaluru
Nearly 15,000 Indians stranded overseas are expected to return on special Air India flights from 12 countries over a week, starting today (Thursday, 7 May). The government will operate 64 flights until May 13 and use three Navy ships, as part of Phase I of an evacuation plan, named “Vande Bharat Mission”. Of the 64 flights, 15 would be to Kerala, 11 each to Delhi and Tamil Nadu, seven each to Maharashtra and Telangana, and the rest to Gujarat, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, and Uttar Pradesh.
It is learnt that Pavan Kapoor, India’s Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was seen interacting with Indians who are being brought back under the Vande Bharat Mission at the Abu Dhabi airport. Earlier today, Two Air India Express flights had left Kerala for the United Arab Emirates as India set in motion the exercise to evacuate its citizens stranded in the Gulf region due to the COVID-19 lockdown. At least 340 passengers, mostly Keralites, including pregnant women, infants, and those with medical emergencies, will be among those to be brought back from Abu Dhabi and Dubai onboard the two flights, which will return to Kochi and Kozhikode airports in the state late tonight.
It is also learnt that, In addition to the air evacuation, three naval ships, left for Maldives and UAE on Tuesday to bring back Indian citizens. Only COVID-19 negative patients will be boarding the flights and still the returnees, barring pregnant women and children and elders, will be under institutional quarantine for seven days. 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.
In the first five days, at least 2,000 odd people from various Gulf nations, home to lakhs of expatriates from Kerala, will arrive at the four international airports at Kannur, Kozhikode, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram on board 13 flights. 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.
“Kudos to all the passengers for waiting patiently for their turn for medical screening and many thanks to all the front line health workers and airport staff for extending full support,” the Indian Embassy in Abu Dhabi tweeted. There were no suspected COVID-19 cases among the first batch of passengers being repatriated today. “All of them have cleared the tests,” Consul General of India in Dubai Vipul was quoted as saying by the Gulf News. He said the criteria of passengers” selection included medical cases, loss of jobs, pregnant women and senior citizens. Those with complications and financial issues were also picked. Short-listing the first passengers from among a database of more than 200,000 applicants, who include around 6,500 pregnant women, has been a mammoth task which posed several challenges for the missions, reveal sources.
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.
With inputs from Gulf News