Sunday, May 30, 2021

Covishield arrival in Kolkata a worry as airlines pull out Pune services due to low load

Kolkata: Transporting consignments of Covid-19 vaccine Covishield manufactured by Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) to Kolkata is proving to be a logistical nightmare with all airlines that operated direct flights between the two cities suspending them citing viability issues.

“Flying in Covishield vaccines was always tough due to the restriction on flights from Maharashtra that has been in place for nearly a year now. Flights are allowed to operate between Pune and Kolkata only on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. But now it has become even more difficult with airlines suspending the flights due to poor passenger load,” said an official of a private hospital that has placed orders for Covishield.

On Friday, three consignments of Covishield doses weighing 1.2 tonnes arrived from Pune via Delhi on the IndiGo flight 6E 755. On the other hand, the Covaxin consignment of 591kg from Hyderabad was flown in directly by the Air India flight AI 525. On Saturday, another 285kg consignment containing Covaxin doses was flown in from Hyderabad on the IndiGo flight 6E 6358.

"It will now be easier to ship Covaxin consignments than Covishield because there are multiple flights operating between Kolkata and Hyderabad against none between Kolkata and Pune. We hope the issue is resolved soon so that vaccine movement gets streamlined,” a health department official said.

According to sources, the state health department was even contemplating easing the restriction on flights from Pune when the flights went off the air. Last week, only the Air Asia flight I5 320 had operated once. GoAir, IndiGo and Spice-Jet, which had daily flight schedules, have cancelled the flights citing lack of viability because of poor loads.

30/05/21 Subhro Niyogi & Tamaghna Banerjee/Times of India


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