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Coronavirus: Air India special flight to take off from Wuhan at 12.50 pm, expected return at 2 am on Saturday

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NEW DELHI: An Air India Boeing 747 has landed in Delhi from Mumbai and will now take off for Wuhan, China, at around 12.50 pm Friday to evacuate Indians from the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak. The jumbo jet (VT-ESP) “Agra” took off from Mumbai at 9.01 am for Delhi from where five doctors from the health ministry will board the aircraft with all medicines required for the evacuees.

“The flight from Delhi will have 4 pilots, 15 cabin cabin crew, three engineers, five commercial staff, two security-men and one despatch official — in all 33 people AI staffers. AI director operations Captain Amitabh Singh will be onboard to supervise this special flight. All these people will wear the full protective suit on landing in Wuhan, before opening the aircraft door there,” said sources. AI chairman Ashwani Lohani was at Delhi Airport when the aircraft landed here and went on board to interact with these crew members who will be operating the flight.

Coronavirus: Air India special plane to evacuate Indians from Wuhan today

The return flight is expected to take off from Wuhan at 10 pm (local time) and reach Delhi around 2 am Saturday. Wuhan-Delhi will take about 45 minutes more than the outbound journey due to headwinds.

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(Maharaja’s heroes and heroines: Crew at Mumbai Airport before taking off for Delhi on Friday morning.)

AI chairman Ashwani Lohani tweeted: “The national carrier once again comes to the rescue – this time to evacuate Indians from Wuhan, the site of the outbreak of coronavirus. This mission begins today with a Jumbo 747 operating between Delhi and Wuhan. Jai Hind”

The B747-400 was initially supposed to leave from Mumbai for Wuhan and fly back to Delhi. But that was changed to take the necessary men and material from Delhi.

Two pilots operating Agra from Mumbai to Delhi will alight here and then four other pilots will be on board. The 423-seater AI B747 will be flying back over 380 Indians back home.

“We have been ready for the special flight from Day One and were just awaiting clearance from China as Wuhan is in a state of lockdown. Our crew and all other employees are looking forward to bringing home fellow countrymen back from Wuhan to the safety of their home in India,” said an AI official.

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