Local Business

UAE carriers' cargo operations soar on perishables, medical supplies

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on April 10, 2020
SUPPLIES ASSURED: 12 carriers are currently operating an average of 110 daily cargo flights at DXB.

The UAE carriers have scaled up their cargo operations as demand for perishable goods - such as food items and medical supplies including face masks, protective covers, sanitisers, equipment for hospitals - grows globally following the outbreak of coronavirus in nearly 200 countries.

In order to meet cargo demand, local carriers are also operating their passengers to transport cargo in different parts of the world, carrying cargo in cabin following permission from the relevant authorities.

"We have particularly ramped up operations for transporting cargo in the bellyhold of our passenger aircraft in the last two weeks. Emirates SkyCargo has been expanding its network on a daily basis and some of the latest destinations for our cargo flights on passenger aircraft include Bangkok, Casablanca, Johannesburg, Singapore and Taipei," said Nabil Sultan, divisional senior vice-president, Emirates.

Emirates SkyCargo operates flights to 51 destinations globally. During the week ending April 4, 2020, the air cargo carrier had operated more than 160 flights on its freighter aircraft and close to 90 flights on its passenger aircraft. The following week, the air cargo carrier had operated close to 160 flights on its passenger aircraft alone.

Some of Emirates SkyCargo's stations including Hong Kong and Amsterdam have had to manage increased freighter operations with Hong Kong managing more than 30 and Amsterdam managing 16 freighter flights a week.

From across its global network, Emirates SkyCargo has imported more than 33,000 tonnes of perishable items and more than 1,700 tonnes of pharmaceuticals into the UAE since the start of the year. Food items are brought in from several markets including Australia, India, Kenya and Pakistan.

Etihad Cargo on Thursday added five additional routes using Etihad Airways passenger aircraft to increase the flow of essential supplies into the UAE and provide further east-west connectivity between major markets.

It recently announced the launch of passenger freighter flights to 10 destinations. Using belly-hold capacity on a mix of Boeing 777 and 787 aircraft, Etihad Cargo is introducing services between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne, Chennai, Kerala, Karachi, and Amsterdam, in addition to passenger freighters already operating scheduled cargo-only flights to Seoul, Beijing, Bangkok, Singapore, Manila, Jakarta, Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore and Riyadh.

It will import meat, fish and seafood, fruits, and vegetables, in addition to pharmaceuticals and medical supplies.

Flydubai on Tuesday said it has operated 23 repatriation flights carrying more than 2,800 passengers from the UAE between March 19 and April 8, 2020, and also carried essential goods in the belly-hold of its passenger aircraft in both the directions.

These repatriation flights operated to Afghanistan, Croatia, Egypt, Iran, Russia, Sudan, Somaliland and Thailand with the approval of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the Civil Aviation Authorities of the respective countries as well as the Ministries of Foreign Affairs.

Hamad Obaidalla, chief commercial officer of flydubai, said the budget carrier is looking forward to resuming its operations when the time is right. "We are working closely with the authorities. The safety of our passengers and everyone at flydubai will always be our priority."

The carrier will operate up to ten more repatriation flights over the next week and continues to coordinate closely with the authorities on bringing UAE Nationals home free of charge.

DXB posts growth

Dubai International (DXB) on Thursday said it witnessed an increase in perishable goods and medical supplies cargo handled in March due to growing demand for these products in the UAE and worldwide due to Covid-19 pandemic.

The volume of fruit and vegetables increased by 88.5 per cent (18,164 tonnes) year-on-year in March, while the volume of pharmaceuticals also increased by 49.4 per cent (12,500 tonnes) driven mainly by increased global demand for medical supplies and equipment as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak. The volume of meat products also grew by 17.8 per cent to 8,050 tonnes during the month.

"We have moved quickly to facilitate the replacement of cargo capacity that is normally provided in the underfloor cargo holds of passenger aircraft by accommodating a number of dedicated cargo flights to keep the supply of food, supplies and equipment flowing into the UAE during the current unprecedented global crisis," said Paul Griffiths, CEO of Dubai Airports. A total of 12 carriers are currently operating an average of 110 daily cargo flights at DXB. - waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

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