The evacuation operation to rescue the Indians from China's Wuhan city in the wake of the deadly coronavirus outbreak was a "challenging operation" said Air India's Director of Operations Captain Amitabh Singh on Thursday. The captain informed that the airline is the second line of defense whether it is a conflict, natural disaster or an epidemic outbreak.
"Air India is the second line of defense whether it is a conflict, natural disaster or a disease like this. It has always served the country. It was a challenging operation. We have a team and every department knows its role", he said.
The evacuation operations included a total of 64 members. The team included 30 cabin crew, 8 pilots, 10 commercial staff of Air India and one senior officer from AI CMD Secretariat. The team was led by Air India's Director of Operations Captain Amitabh Singh. He informed that he lead the team as an executive commander and when they reached Wuhan all roads and buildings were empty.
"I was the executive commander of the flight. It was the first time we got involved in going to the so-called epicentre of the epidemic. There was no other airplane there. All roads and buildings were empty. It was as if we came to another planet," he said.
He also informed that the passengers were tired and scared and the orders were to fly in, evacuate and fly out, keeping everyone safe. The operation had very good doctors onboard, Singh added.
The two special flights returned to New Delhi carrying 647 Indians and 7 Maldivians on February 1 and 2 from Wuhan - a Chinese city of more than 11 million people which has been the epicentre of the new streak of deadly coronavirus, named COVID-19 by the WHO. Those evacuated from Wuhan were sent to quarantine facilities in Manesar and Chhawla managed by the Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) respectively.
(With inputs from ANI)