New Delhi: The Indian Commercial Pilots' Association (ICPA) on Sunday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, expressing willingness to fly planes to Kerala on a "voluntary basis" in the larger interest of the people affected by floods in the southern state.
“We are willing to fly the planes without payment on voluntary basis to the cause of these operations. We consider this a unique privilege that we can use to assist in such operations," the association said in the letter. "We have full faith that Sir you will surely turn your attention to the plight of Air India and Air Indians once calm is restored," the letter stated.
The association's letter to the Prime Minister comes a day after the pilots threatened to stop operations if their flying allowance dues were not paid immediately. "ICPA pilots on the Airbus 320 and Boeing 787 in Air India are ready and committed to the cause of OPERATION MADAD & OPERATION SAHYOG. We will support the government and the PMO in the endeavour to help our fellow citizens in Kerala," the letter said.
Air India has always come forward during natural calamities by operating relief flights and by evacuating Indians from war zones like Kuwait, Libya, Lebanon or Yemen, General Secretary of the association T. Praveen Keerthi said. "We are ready for any help as pilots on voluntary basis for Kerala, like we have always done in the past," the letter added.
State-run Air India's subsidiary — Alliance Air — will commence operations from Kochi naval base to aid the rescue operations in flood-hit Kerala. According to the airline, flight operations will commence from August 20.
The death toll due to rains and floods in Kerala has gone up to 368, as 33 more deaths were reported on Saturday even as around 58,000 people were rescued in different parts of the state. At time of publishing this report, none of the 14 districts in the state were under the dreaded red alert.
Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, while giving the latest figures, told the media late on Saturday that the flood relief work is going on in full swing and things are slowly coming under control and more helicopters and personnel would be engaged in the rescue and relief operations on Sunday.