NEW DELHI: The Air India crew that rescued over 650 people as part of special evacuation operations in China was showered with praises and accolades by the Union Cabinet on Wednesday. The cabinet said that the crew did not express any fear while giving priority to their duty.
“The crew spent around 12 hours with the people who were rescued. Anyone else would have been scared and questioned why they were send to a place where a deadly virus was spreading. ” Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said.
On Saturday, 324 Indians were brought back from Wuhan by the first special flight, while another batch of 323 Indians and seven Maldivians were evacuated from the Chinese city on Sunday through the second special flight.
Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani termed it “heart-warming”, saying “Union Cabinet’s appreciation for the staff of Air India who travelled to Wuhan to evacuate Indians is indeed heartwarming for the entire Air India family and would go a long way in inspiring Air Indians to keep going beyond the call of duty in serving the nation.”
Air India has carried out similar evacuations in the past from Libya, Iraq, Yemen, Kuwait and Nepal.
In August 1990, Air India and erstwhile Indian Airline evacuated over one lakh Indians from Iraq and Kuwait via 488 flights in 59 days, created a world record for the largest aerial evacuation since 1948-49.
Air India successfully accomplished ‘Operation Rahat’ (Yemen) in 2015 as well as operation ‘Safe Homecoming’ in 2011.