Air, Feature, Freight News

Virgin flies vital supplies from Shanghai

[ April 6, 2020   //   ]

Virgin Atlantic teamed up with Virgin Group’s not-for-profit foundation, Virgin Unite, to fly a special charter with essential medical supplies and equipment for the NHS from Shanghai to London.

The Boeing 787-9 aircraft departed Shanghai at 11:40 local time on 3 April landing at 16:50 the same day at London Heathrow.

Manned by seven pilots and four cabin crew, the aircraft carried over 350,000 items of essential PPE supplies and medical equipment including respirators, ventilator parts, face masks, scrubs, aprons and eye protection in both the hold and in the cabin of the aircraft – all essential items to help keep NHS heroes working on the frontline safe and support patients in great need.

Managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, Dominic Kennedy, commented: “We are incredibly grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing for the nation in extremely challenging circumstances, as they respond to the Covid-19 crisis. We’re pleased we can play a part in supporting them, by bringing crucial supplies into the UK. With special thanks to the British Embassy in Beijing, the CAA and the UK Government in expediting clearances to make this possible.

“Despite a decrease in passengers travelling, demand to transport cargo remains strong, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. We’re looking forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on a number of flights over the next few weeks, to bring in the supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients. Thanks also to Guy’s and St Thomas’ for their support in helping to organise this.”

The emergence of Covid-19 has led to Virgin Atlantic operating cargo-only flights, a first for the airline since its launch in 1984. Special exemptions from travel restrictions for pilots and cabin crew – whose health and wellbeing remains the carrier’s top priority – mean that cargo operations can continue, ensuring the airline can continue to support vital supply chains across the globe.

Once unloaded from the flight, the cargo transferred onto CEVA Logistics trucks and headed for its specialist healthcare facility in Dartford for distribution to NHS hospitals, surgeries and other facilities.