Chinese Cargo Flights Bringing Medical Supplies to India Suspended

India on Monday, 26 April, reported 3,52,991 fresh COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours.

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China's state-run Sichuan Airlines has suspended all its cargo flights to India for the next 15 days, disrupting efforts by private traders to procure the crucial oxygen concentrators and other medical supplies from China.

The flights have been suspended despite Beijing offering "support and assistance" to India to deal with the second wave of COVID-19.

The Sichuan Chuanhang Logistics Co Ltd (part of the Sichuan Airlines) said on Monday, 26 April, that the airline has suspended its cargo flight route from Xian to Delhi, amid efforts by private traders from both sides to procure oxygen concentrators from China.

The company said, "In the face of sudden changes in the epidemic situation (in India), in order to reduce the number of imported cases, it is decided" to suspend the flights for the next 15 days, PTI reported.

The letter to the sales agents said that the company will review the situation after 15 days.

The letter also said that the “Indian route has always been the core strategic route for Sichuan Airlines. This suspension has also caused great losses to our company. We are very sorry for the unchanged situation”. They further sought the “understanding of its sales agents”.

There have been complaints of Chinese manufacturers jacking up the prices by 35 to 40 percent.

Will Have to Reroute the Supplies Through Singapore and Other Countries

Siddharth Sinha of Sino Global Logistics, a Shanghai-based freight forwarding company, told PTI that the freight charges have been increased to over 20 percent. He added that the Sichuan Airlines decision to cancel flights has caused severe disruption to attempts by private traders in both the countries to secure quick supplies of the Oxygen concentrators to rush to India in view of the dire situation.

He further explained that it becomes very challenging to rush the supplies as they have to be rerouted through Singapore and other countries through different airlines, which delays the much-needed supplies.

Sinha also remarked that the suspension owing to the COVID-19 situation in India is surprising as there is no crew change in India and the same crew flies the aircraft back.

He added that the Chinese suppliers also resorted to heavily jacking up of prices to cash in on the pandemic emergency.

The move also comes as a surprise to Indian officials as it came in the backdrop of official support to India.

What the Chinese Foreign Ministry Had Said:

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian had told a media briefing on 23 April that China is in communication with India to provide necessary support and assistance.

"China expresses sincere sympathies to India over the deteriorating situation in the country recently. The Chinese government and people firmly support the Indian government and people in fighting the coronavirus," he said.

He added, “We believe that the Indian people will defeat the virus at an early date.”

India on Monday, 26 April, reported 3,52,991 fresh COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours — the highest one-day spike so far in the country since the pandemic began.

As many as 2,812 COVID fatalities and 2,19,272 discharges were recorded, as per the Union Health Ministry. The total case tally has now reached 1,73,13,163 with 28,13,658 active patients and 1,95,123 deaths. The total number of recoveries, meanwhile, stands at 1,43,04,382.

(With inputs from PTI)

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