• Emirates SkyCargo’s flights have helped transport more than 100,000 tonnes of essential supplies during the pandemic.

March 17, 2021: An Emirates B777-300ER passenger aircraft flight took off on March 16 from Dubai to Kuwait carrying no passengers but 34 tonnes of belly hold cargo that was urgently required. Thus, it completes a year flying passenger aircraft for freighter operations.

Coming just four days after Covid-19 had been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), this flight would be the first of more than 27,800 cargo flights to be operated by Emirates SkyCargo in the year that followed as the cargo carrier worked ceaselessly to keep communities across the world connected during the pandemic.

Nabil Sultan, Emirates divisional senior vice president, cargo, said, “It has been exactly one year since what was considered impossible in the air cargo industry became not just a reality but a strong operational pillar for Emirates SkyCargo. Prior to the pandemic, nearly two thirds of our total cargo was transported in the belly hold of our passenger flights. With increasing flight suspensions and restrictions on passenger travel imposed due to Covid-19 in early March 2020, we could foresee a situation where there would no longer be adequate cargo capacity available in the market to transport essential supplies.”

Currently, Emirates SkyCargo has 16 B777-300ER mini-freighters for cargo operations.

“In order to bolster the cargo capacity offered by our 11 Boeing 777 freighters and make sure that we could meet the urgent demand for goods such as PPE, ventilators and other pharmaceutical goods and food supplies from across the world, we proactively made a radical and innovative plan to utilise our widebody passenger aircraft to operate cargo only flights. We trialled this passenger freighter concept with a flight to Kuwait on 16th March last year. Over the next few weeks, as regular passenger operations were completely suspended, we started increasing our passenger freighter flights to a point where we had close to 90 passenger aircraft being used for cargo operations.”

Emirates SkyCargo’s flights have helped transport more than 100,000 tonnes of essential supplies including PPE, Covid-19 testing kits, ventilators, pharmaceuticals, vaccines and food last year. This is the equivalent of cargo carried over 1,000 full flights on the B777 freighter aircraft.

The air cargo carrier has set up a dedicated GDP certified airside hub in Dubai for Covid-19 vaccines and has also partnered with leading Dubai based entities and with UNICEF for the rapid transport of vaccines to developing nations through Dubai.

Watch our interview with Nabil Sultan of Emirates in Cargo Masterminds series

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