Saturday, May 01, 2021

Chinese carrier weighs calls to resume India cargo services for medical essentials

Beijing: A Chinese state-owned airline is reassessing whether to resume cargo flights to India, but so far the services remain suspended because of a surge in coronavirus cases in the country.

Sichuan Airlines Logistics, the logistics arm of Sichuan Airlines, suspended cargo flights to India for 15 days from Monday, disrupting efforts to transport oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies from China into India, according to Indian media reports.

“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,” a spokesman for the carrier said on Friday.

The statement came as Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to help India to cope with the drastic surge of Covid-19 cases.

In a condolence message to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Xi said he was very concerned about the recent Covid-19 outbreak in India.

“On behalf of the Chinese government and the Chinese people, and in my own capacity, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the Indian government and people,” Xi said in the message, according to state media.

Agents and freight forwarders are scrambling to buy oxygen concentrators from China as India battles to contain a second wave of coronavirus infections, according to Indian media reports.

India had requested cargo flights from mainland China to India to be resumed. Sichuan Airlines Logistics is understood to be the only carrier to have suspended services.

The Economic Times, an Indian newspaper, quoted Ravi Uday Bhaskar, director general of Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India (Pharmexcil) as saying the suspension of flights would also have a cascading effect on the entire pharmaceuticals supply chain, leading to a shortage of essential medicines for not just for India’s domestic needs but also pharmaceutical exports to meet global needs.

01/05/21 Amber Wang/South China Morning Post

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