Saturday, January 23, 2021

Airport misses chance of transporting Covishield

Pune: The Covishield vaccine, manufactured by city-based Serum Institute of India, was not exported from Pune Airport, despite the facility having an international cargo export unit started three years ago.

Earlier this week, the Covishield vaccine was exported to Bhutan from the Bagdogra airport on an Indian Air Force aircraft. During the early hours of Friday, two million doses of the vaccine departed from the Mumbai International airport to Brazil via Emirates SkyCargo and two million doses to Morocco on Royal Air Maroc.

A senior official with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) in Mumbai said he didn’t have any information of any airline requesting export of the vaccine from Pune. A message regarding the matter was sent to Pune airport director Kuldeep Singh, but his answer was awaited till the time of going to press.

A Pune customs official, requesting anonymity, said, “The AAI has not provided any cold storage facility at the international cargo export unit, which is important for vaccine storage. We cannot comment more on this.”

The facility was made operational by the AAI in July 2017. Anant Sardeshmukh, the former director general of the MCCIA, said, “Pune is not connected well to many domestic and international destinations. Secondly, I don’t think the airport has cold storage and other facilities.”

23/01/21 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

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