Emirates Skycargo
At one point in April 2021, one in every 20 COVID-19 vaccines administered around the world had flown on an Emirates aircraft. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Emirates SkyCargo operated more than 20,000 cargo-only flights on passenger aircraft during 2021, as the carrier worked out ways to capitalise on demand spike.

“This has been without question one of the most challenging years for our industry as the pandemic continues to create difficulties across the entire supply chain and across all modes of transportation,” said Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice-President, Cargo.

“Emirates SkyCargo has been a first mover in ensuring that trade lanes remain open by reinstating flights and providing additional capacity on key trade routes across six continents.”

Distribution of COVID-19 vaccines

As of December, the cargo carrier transported a total of 600 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to over 80 destinations, one of the largest volumes globally by any airline cargo carrier. In January last year, Emirates SkyCargo partnered Dubai-based entities - DP World, International Humanitarian City and Dubai Airports - to form the Dubai Vaccine Logistics Alliance to expedite global vaccine distribution through Dubai.

The operator also signed an agreement with UNICEF in February last to prioritise delivery of vaccines and related supplies in support of the COVAX initiative for equitable distribution of vaccines.

With its wide-body capacity and extensive network, Emirates SkyCargo played an important role in the international movement of COVID-19 vaccines. At one point in April 2021, one in every 20 COVID-19 vaccines administered around the world had flown on an Emirates aircraft.

Supporting perishable exports

The air cargo carrier transported over 265,000 tonnes of perishables and food on its flights in 2021, facilitating an important volume of the global cross-border logistics in the trade of food and other perishables.

Emirates SkyCargo transports close to 600 tonnes of food materials every day on its flights supporting communities reliant on agricultural exports for income and at the same time also ensuring food security at markets reliant on food imports.

Reinstating network

By April 2021, Emirates SkyCargo had reinstated its global network for cargo flights to more than 135 destinations. This represented more than 85 per cent of its pre-pandemic global network. By the end of June 2021, Emirates SkyCargo was operating to more than 140 destinations, restoring 90 per cent of its pre-Covid network.