Air India, which has kept three wide-body planes and crew on standby for evacuation of Indian nationals in strife-torn Iraq, is awaiting government's instructions to launch the flights, its officials said today.
The flights, which are likely to be operated by two Boeing 747 jumbos and a Boeing 777, are ready to fly at short notice, they said, adding that cockpit and cabin crew to operate them were also on standby.
Civil Aviation Minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju had yesterday said, "Certain strategies have been put in place (for evacuation) and civil aviation is part of it. How best to evacuate them, this is an important thing."
Meanwhile, the state-run airline's pilots' body ICPA today supported the evacuation plan and said they would participate in it even though their allowances were being cut "unilaterally" for two years.
In a letter to Raju, the Indian Commercial Pilots' Association said, "25 per cent of our allowances are being cut unilaterally for two years which has brought down the morale of all employees of Air India."
In spite of "our hardships...the ICPA would extend complete support and cooperation for evacuation of the... people of our country in Iraq," its General Secretary Rishabh Kapur said.
ICPA represents over 600 pilots of narrow-body planes of the erstwhile Indian Airlines.