Hyderabad: The Begumpet Airport, which was closed for commercial flight operations since 2008, became busy these days as the Central and State governments are using it for handling and distribution of Covid related aids including vaccines, oxygen concentrators, medical equipment and medicines.
After Covid positive cases started increasing in the State followed by shortage of oxygen supply, a flurry of activity started witnessing at the airport with officials getting oxygen from Angul in Odisha with the help of Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft.
On Sunday, an IAF flight with oxygen tankers, each with a capacity of 15 tonnes, was sent to Odisha from the Begumpet Airport. In all, three sorties with six tankers with a total capacity of about 90 tonnes, were sent to Odisha.
These tankers first landed at Bhubaneswar Airport before reaching Angul by road. After filling with oxygen, the tankers will reach the city by road in three days. These tankers were in addition to the four vehicles that were already sent to Odisha on Saturday by IAF aircraft.
Apart from getting oxygen, the Central and State governments are using the airport to supply crucial medicines required for Covid patients. The State government of Madhya Pradesh sent a chartered flight to airlift medicines from Hyderabad, officials said.
The airport is playing a key role in bringing Covid-19 patients from other States to the city in an air ambulance for proper treatment and later shifting them to their native places. During the pandemic last year, several patients were airlifted to the city for treatment.
To ensure smooth operations at the airport, the staff is working till 1.30 am for the movement of flights, officials said. When contacted, Airport Director C Pattabhi said over 100 employees were rendering services during crucial times.
According to officials, the commercial flight operations were closed at the Begumpet Airport after Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (RGIA) in Shamshabad was opened in March 2008. Since then, it was mainly used for attending to emergency services during any disaster like floods to transport food and other relief material to affected areas.
International aviation events too are held at the Begumpet Airport. Wings India, the biennial three-day civil aviation business exhibition and air show, was held in mid-March in 2020.
Choppers, regularly used by the government, are also operated from Begumpet along with chartered flights of VIPs and politicians.
The IAF is utilising the airport for training its cadets. Cadets go for a sortie from the airport as part of their training in the IAF.