Dubai: Emirates airline on Sunday said it set up a humanitarian airbridge between Dubai and India to transport urgent medical and relief items, to support India in its fight to control the serious COVID-19 situation in the country.
Emirates will offer cargo capacity free of charge on an “as available” basis on all of its flights to nine cities in India, to help international NGOs deliver relief supplies rapidly to where it is needed.
In the past weeks, Emirates SkyCargo - the cargo unit of the airline - has already been transporting medicines and medical equipment on scheduled and charter cargo flights to India.
"We stand with the Indian people and will do all we can to help India get back on its feet. Emirates has a lot of experience in humanitarian relief efforts, and with 95 weekly flights to 9 destinations in India, we will be offering regular and reliable widebody capacity for relief materials," said Sheikh Al Maktoum, Emirates’ Chairman and Chief Executive.
Medical supplies will be shipped to the following cities: Ahmedabad, Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi, Hyderabad, Kochi, Kolkata, Mumbai and Thiruvananthapuram.
The first shipment is a consignment of over 12 tons of multi-purpose tents from the World Health Organization (WHO), bound for Delhi, and coordinated by the IHC in Dubai.
Two additional shipments have been booked for the 15th and 16th of May, said Nabil Sultan, Divisional Senior-Vice President, Emirates Cargo during a press conference.
"Some of the equipment that have been shipped so far are oxygen cylinders - we have to move oxygen manufacturing machines from Germany," said Sultan. "In the coming period, there will be a lot of focus on PPE"
The International Humanitarian City (IHC) will support Emirates SkyCargo in channelling relief efforts to India through the airbridge.
"At the moment we are lucky to have IHC... one entity that can facilitate multiple International NGOs," said Sultan.
"Today, we already have sufficient capacity between Dubai and the nine multiple cities across India," said Sultan in an interview with Gulf News.
"But of course if the need arises, we'll be more than happy to sort of scale up the capacity even further," he added.
Sultan added that Emirates was working closely with freight forwarders and aviation entities in India for documentation and delivery of the cargo.
The programme will go on until Emirates sees an improvement in India's current Covid-19 crisis, which is claiming over 4,000 lives everyday.
"We (will) continue to provide that (shipments) until we hopefully see a turn around... we have pledged to stand with the Indian people and that's what I think is our role in this pandemic"