Sichuan Airlines reassessing resumption of cargo services to India

As China’s state-run Sichuan Airlines cargo flights to India remain suspended because of the ever-increasing COVID cases, authorities are assessing the situation to resume its services.

Sichuan Airlines earlier this week announced its plans to suspend all cargo flights to India for 15 days which resulted in disruption of efforts to transport oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies from China into India. However, later that day the airline retracted its announcement and said it is discussing new plans to resume cargo services in India, as the country has been going through difficult times.

As of Friday, no new development has come from the airline on the matter.

A spokesperson of the airline informed, “We are still in the status of reassessing [when to resume the flights]. Due to the impact of the epidemic, cargo flights are still suspended. The specific date to resume flights to India has not been determined yet.”

The statement from the carrier arrives after Chinese President Xi Jinping extends his condolences to the nation and pledges to help India cope with the crisis.

In a message to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Xi expressed his concerns about the recent Covid-19 outbreak in India and said, “On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, and in my capacity, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the Indian government and people.”

As Indian agents and freight forwarders scramble to buy oxygen concentrators from China, India requests cargo flights from mainland China to India to be resumed.

As per media reports, Ravi Uday Bhaskar, director-general of Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) said, the suspension of flights would have a cascading effect on the entire pharmaceuticals supply chain and lead to a shortage of essential medicines for not just for India’s domestic needs but also pharmaceutical exports to meet the global needs.

Concerned about the same Pharmexcil had also appealed to Vikram Misri, India’s ambassador to China, to intervene to push for either a resumption of the Sichuan Airlines Logistics services or for an Indian carrier to transport the medical supplies, a source said on Friday.

The embassy had raised the concerns with multiple agencies in China, the source said.

Sichuan Airlines Logistics is understood to be the only carrier to have suspended services.

Speaking on the same, the Chinese foreign ministry informed that many Chinese cargo flights had operated between China and India over the past two weeks.

Wang Wenbin, the ministry’s spokesperson said, “The relevant Chinese authorities have provided convenient customs clearance for India to transport oxygen concentrators and other materials from many cities in China, and China will continue to maintain unimpeded exports of materials to India,”

Further adding, he said that China had exported oxygen generators, 26,000 ventilators, more than 15,000 monitors, and 3,800 tonnes of medicinal materials and medicines to India, since April.

He assured that more supplies to deal with the pandemic would continue to be sent to India in the next few days.

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