Air India has been operating special flights from India to Frankfurt with relief materials and had also evacuated European nationals who were stranded in India due to the lockdown.
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Speaking to news agency ANI, one of the senior captains of the special flights said, ” It was a very proud moment for me as well as the entire Air India crew when we heard from Pakistan ATC praising our special flight operations to Europe.
“As we entered in Pakistan’s Flight Information Region (FIR), Pak’s ATC greeted us ‘Assalaam Alaikum!'” the senior captain added. ” This is Karachi’s control welcoming Air India for relief flights to Frankfurt,” the senior captain quoted Pak ATC as saying.
The ATC also said, “We are proud of you that in a pandemic situation you are operating flights. Good Luck!”
Pakistan also conveyed the flight’s position to the Tehran airspace and provided the details of the two AI special flights.
“First time in my entire career as a pilot, Iran gave a direct routing for about 1000 miles, a privilege guess enjoyed as special flights, in all, especially in the recent tense situation, in the Iranian airspace,” the captain told ANI.
Iran has rarely given access to a direct route for foreign airlines because the country’s airspace is strictly kept reserved for its defence purpose.
The captain added that before leaving the Iranian airspace, the ATC wished them ‘all the best’.
After Iran, the AI special flights entered into the Turkey airspace and then into Germany. “All ATCs from Bombay to Frankfurt welcomed the special flights of Air India and wished us very proudly,” the captain said.
The two special AI flights flew out European and Canadian citizens from Mumbai. The whole crew, including the pilots, wore the mandatory coronavirus coveralls for over 20-hours at a stretch (to/from and ground time to Frankfurt).
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