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Air India Express first evacuation flight: Tense to happy passengers, captain's impromptu message

In a way, these aspects sum up the expectations and relief of stranded Indians abroad as Air India Express ferried 181 people, including four infants, from Abu Dhabi to Kochi on Thursday evening.

Published: 10th May 2020 09:20 PM  |   Last Updated: 10th May 2020 09:20 PM   |  A+A-

Indian nationals stranded in UK arrive at Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International airport during the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown in Mumbai on Sunday.

Indian nationals stranded in UK arrive at Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International airport during the ongoing COVID-19 nationwide lockdown in Mumbai on Sunday. (Photo | PTI)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Mixed expressions on the faces of passengers.

Some tense faces at the time of boarding turned happy after landing of the plane.

And an impromptu message from the captain that garnered many likes on social media.

In a way, these aspects sum up the expectations and relief of stranded Indians abroad as Air India Express ferried 181 people, including four infants, from Abu Dhabi to Kochi on Thursday evening.

It was also the first flight under the 'Vande Bharat Mission' wherein nearly 15,000 Indians, stranded in different countries, are to be brought back to the country.

"From the cockpit I could see. There were mixed faces, (some) thrilled, happy. More of a mixed reaction," Anshul Sheoran, who piloted the Abu Dhabi-Kochi flight, told PTI.

There were some passengers who had medical conditions and wheel chair requirement.

"Then I thought of a passenger announcement. It was impromptu (message). There was no time to think about," the pilot said referring to the nearly three-minute onboard announcement and added that he also wanted to give the message of "we are coming back home".

Air India Express and Air India together will be operating 64 flights to different parts of the world till May 13.

The first flight -- IX 452 -- came to Kochi on May 7.

Deepak Menon, the lead cabin attendant on that flight, said lots of passengers thanked the crew after the flight landed.

"While boarding, they (passengers) were little tense. After landing they were very much happy. They said thanks, we are proud of you," he said.

There was four cabin crew members and two pilots on the flight that was operated by a Boeing 737 aircraft.

"I thank everyone for their wishes and prayers. Also, I am extremely grateful to my family and neighbourhood. I got support from them also," Menon said.

There have been instances of airline crew members not being allowed or not treated properly by residential associations and societies amid fears of coronavirus infections.

Personally, the crew wore Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for nearly five hours.

When asked whether he has any particular message for passengers, Sheoran remarked that he just wanted to say that they are in safe hands and would get them back home soon.

"We will live up to national expectations, like always," he added.

After requisite tests for COVID-19 and following necessary safety protocols, crew members will be back for their next flight.

As Sheoran said in the announcement, "we are all dressed in hazmat suits as per the safety protocol but we will still be wearing our warm smiles underneath".

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