New Delhi, May 7: The role of Air India in safe evacuation of stranded Indians and people of other nationalities from war-hit Yemen was on Thursday appreciated with Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju felicitating the airline crew in recognition of their efforts.
Also read: India evacuated 6,688 people from Yemen
"You have done us proud and I am confident that whenever the country needs the services of Air India, you will be available," Raju said at a function held here to felicitate its employees who were part of the relief operations in Yemen last month.
Applauding the team for being "not unmindful" but rather "being conscious of the danger," the minister said, "It is for the first time that I have heard other nations requesting India to assist in evacuating their nationals."
Minister of State for Civil Aviation Mahesh Sharma, Civil Aviation Secretary V Somasundaran and Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rohit Nandan were also present on the occasion besides senior airline officials.
Air India evacuated more than 50 per cent of the total 6,400 evacuees
Around 50 employees of the 150 who were part of the relief flights were presented a shield and cash award each in recognition of their efforts on this occasion. The other employees could not come to the event due to duty schedule, the airline later said.
In 1990, Air India entered the Guinness Book of World Records for the most people evacuated by a civil airliner. The operation was carried out to evacuate Indian expatriates from Kuwait and Iraq during Persian Gulf War also called First Gulf War (1990-91), the international conflict that was triggered by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990.
"You have brought laurels to our country. We need to appreciate such efforts. Appreciation is a great motivator," Sharma said in his address to the Air India officials and employees.
Around 150 Air India employees, including senior and junior pilots and cabin crew, were part of the evacuation flights, which were operated from April 3 to 9 and then again on April 14.
During this period, the national carrier operated a total of 19 flights between Djibouti and Sana'a to airlift 3,614 evacuees out of Sana'a.
Of these, 682 were foreigners and 2,932 Indian nationals. Six Airbus A321 and another six Boeing B777 flights were operated from Djibouti to Kochi and Mumbai.
Air India evacuated more than 50 per cent of the total 6,400 evacuees, the airline said.