COVID-19: Emirates’ unprecedented SkyCargo operations

World-recognised Emirates Airline has highlighted its commitment to helping out during the coronavirus pandemic by enhancing its global cargo operations. Similarly to other airlines, Emirates has been using its existing cargo fleet as well as grounded passenger aircraft to transport essential supplies across the globe.

Emirates has been using passenger aircraft, like the Boeing 777-300ER (pictured), to operate some cargo services. Photo by Max Sutter | AeroNewsX

Over the past couple of weeks, the aviation industry has faced a crisis no other. The unprecedented effect of the coronavirus crisis has led many airlines to suspend most of not all passenger flights. Furthermore, many have turned to cargo flights as they scramble to maintain at least some profitability.

Indeed, Lufthansa’s CEO Carsten Spohr said it was losing EUR1 million an hour. This was soon followed by a comment from Air France-KLM’s CEO Ben Smith in an internal message which mentioned losses of up to EUR25 million a day.

Spohr added that the Lufthansa Group was carrying just 3000 daily passengers compared to approximately 350,000 a day before the coronavirus crisis.

Emirates’ new cargo operation is unprecedented. Coupled with its existing cargo-only fleet, the utilisation of passenger aircraft to transport essential supplies has significantly boosted capacity on the cargo side of the business.

Increased cargo service was seen notably on flights to Budapest, Zurich, Brussels. However, cargo service was boosted globally on the Emirates network.

On 23 March, Emirates SkyCargo released its significantly boosted schedule for cargo services. Passenger aircraft were scheduled to operate cargo to various destinations including to Riyadh (double daily), Kuwait (double daily), Bahrain (3 times a week), Amman (3 times a week) among others. The airline also announced daily services to Europe, to destinations like Frankfurt, Milan, Madrid and Paris among others.

By 30 March, passenger services had virtually disappeared, with flights to Khartoum, Madrid and a couple of other destinations still standing with passenger flights.

By 30 March, passenger services had virtually disappeared. Photo by Emirates SkyCargo

Cargo services to Budapest had been a common sight since 16 March carrying relief supplies and equipment from China. Such operations have continued at Budapest since, with Hellman Worldwide Logistics having chartered an Emirates SkyCargo 777F last week with crucial medical supplies from China onboard. On 10 and 11 April, four Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft flew into Budapest carrying supplies such as face masks and gloves.

On 11 April, Emirates operated its third cargo flight in the form of a passenger aircraft to Zurich. The flight, which was sold out, carried pharmaceuticals, medical devices and urgent spares. Emirates SkyCargo now offers three weekly services between Zurich and Dubai.

As we speak, Emirates continues to boost its cargo network, transporting necessary equipment to countries globally. This unprecedented effort further demonstrates Emirates’ commitment to supporting industries during this difficult time.

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