Virgin Atlantic today (April 3) chartered a special relief flight from China with vital medical aid & kit for the UK’s fight against Coronavirus.
The VS251 departed Shanghai’s Pudong airport this morning at 1140 local time and touched down at Heathrow at 1650 this afternoon. A flight crew of seven pilots and four cabin crew brought the Boeing 787-9 back, complete with over 350,000 items of essential medical equipment including respirators, ventilator parts, face masks, scrubs, aprons and eye protection – all within the cargo hold and cabin of the aircraft.
The airline has teamed up with the Virgin Group’s not-for-profit organisation Virgin Unite to operate eight charter flights throughout April. The supplies flown in will be distributed to various hospitals in and around London.
Dominic Kennedy, Virgin Atlantic’s Head of Cargo, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing for the nation in extremely challenging circumstances, as they respond to the Covid-19 crisis. We’re pleased we can play a part in supporting them, by bringing crucial supplies in to the UK. With special thanks to the British Embassy in Beijing, the CAA and the UK Government in expediting clearances to make this possible.
“Despite a decrease in passengers travelling, demand to transport cargo remains strong, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. We’re looking forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on a number of flights over the next few weeks, to bring in the supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients. Thanks also to Guy’s and St Thomas’ for their support in helping to organise this.”
Jean Oelwang, Founding CEO and President of Virgin Unite, the charitable foundation of the Virgin Group, added: “Millions of first responders, nurses, doctors, and other NHS staff are working tirelessly day and night on the frontlines of this crisis. They are true heroes in this crisis and we are humbled to have the opportunity to get this much needed equipment to them.”