Thursday, January 07, 2021

Pune airport to fly out 20mn Covishield doses from today

Pune: Twenty million doses of the Covishield vaccine, manufactured by the city-based Serum Institute of India, would be despatched from the Pune airport to various centres in the country over the next three days, starting Thursday.

“Initially, the vaccine transportation will happen in scheduled aircraft. This arrangement will continue for the next three days. The aircraft transporting the vaccine will be given preference over other aircraft,” an airport official who did not wish to be named told TOI.

The Pune airport officials held a meeting with different stakeholders for the vaccine transportation on Wednesday. Asked about the meeting, a Serum Institute of India spokesperson said, “No comment.”

A senior government official who preferred anonymity said it was an internal meeting of the airport cargo officials. “The state authorities were not invited. Hence, I have no idea about the proceedings during the meeting,” he said.

When contacted, director of state health services Archana Patil said none of their officials were invited to or attended the meeting. This could have been an internal meeting of the airport authorities, she said.

As the vaccine transportation begins, shifting of the existing cargo hold area of the airport to a 2.5-acre area belonging to the Indian Air Force (IAF) remains in abeyance. But authorities said as the airport was not being used by the IAF because of the runway re-carpeting, vaccine transportation would not face any major issue.

“There might be an issue when some special aircraft, belonging to the listed airlines or private parties, are used exclusively for vaccine transportation. Also, aircraft of the IAF can be used in the near future for the transport. In both cases, these aircraft will be given preference over regular flights,” another official seeking anonymity said.

07/01/21 Joy Sengupta/Times of India

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