NEW DELHI: The Delhi airport has facilitated the operation of as many as 100 air ambulances in the last month as the second wave of coronavirus pandemic saw a surge in demand for such aircraft to ferry Covid patients.
Besides flying to several domestic airports, the facility handled flights to international destinations in Germany, UAE, Switzerland, Nepal and Bangladesh.
“With around 12 aircraft currently permitted to operate from the airport, nearly 100 movements of Covid patients were registered in the last month. These aircraft are used for medevac (medical evacuation) operations. The airport terminal along with the adjoining parking apron, which was built almost a year ago to expedite private jet movements, has been instrumental in ferrying patients in the quickest time for proper treatment and later shifting them to their native places,” said an official of the Delhi International Airport Limited (DIAL), a conglomerate led by GMR, which operates the facility.
The pilots and crew travel from the GA terminal and the patients’ movement takes place through dedicated airside gates to avoid any chances of contamination in the airport terminals, said the official.
“Onboard, Covid patients are kept in isolation pods (German-made protective cover with oxygen arrangement). Under the current circumstances, these patients are restricted to be accompanied only by a doctor, a paramedical officer and a nurse.
These are certified doctors trained to handle critical care while flying,” added the official. According to DIAL, these flights are often activated at a short notice (sometimes even in an hour) which requires expedited coordination among all the stakeholders for arranging necessary approvals for such flights.
“Air Ambulance service to ferry the Covid patients is one of the most needed services at this point. We are able to efficiently handle the air ambulance service due to the new state-of-the-art General Aviation terminal which was commissioned last year,” Videh Kumar Jaipuriar, chief executive officer (CEO) of DIAL.
The airport operator ensures timely sanitisation of the ambulance aircraft and the dedicated passage for Covid patients at the airport.