With war clouds hovering over Iraq, the Indian government has directed both Air-India and the Indian Airlines to stand in readiness for evacuating over 50,000 Indians working in Kuwait on a short notice of three days, if necessity arises.
During Iraq's invasion of Kuwait a decade ago, the Air-India had carried out a massive operation of evacuating Indians back home.
While Air-India plans to operate one Boeing 747-400, one 747-Combi and two A310s, Indian Airlines has plans for operating about 11 flights a day by using two A-300s and three A-320s to evacuate the Indians, officials said.
The target for Indian Airlines is about 2,000 passengers per day and for Air-India it is about 1,500 passengers. The flights are to operate from Mumbai to Dammam and on their way back touch Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram. Since there was no night landing facility at Kozhikode, it may not be used, they said.
Operation of an A-300 flight from Mumbai to Dammam and back is estimated to cost Rs 39 lakh (Rs 3.9 million) and for an A-320 Rs 23 lakh (Rs 2.3 million).
The operations may affect the flight schedule of the both airlines who may have to cancel some flights.
Air-India is also likely to consider cancellation of flights to destinations like Paris, New Jersey, Frankfurt and Tokyo.
The sources said state-owned oil firms have also started maintaining high stocks of aviation turbine fuel to meet contingencies like disruption in crude oil supplies in the event of war.
Oil firms in the country always maintain a peace-time jet fuel stockpile of 45 days in their tanks. India consumes about 180,000 tonnes of jet fuel per month.
The sources said these firms have already made advance contracts for sourcing crude oil from countries away from conflict zone.
India imports 7.55 million tonnes of crude oil from Saudi Arabia, 7.13 million tonnes from Kuwait, 5.96 million tonnes from UAE and 4.7 million tonnes from Iran.