Emirates airline said on Sunday it will fly medical supplies from Dubai to nine cities
in India free of charge from this week to help battle a devastating upsurge in the
coronavirus. The offer by Emirates, which has some 95 flights weekly to nine cities
in India, initially involves aid already in Dubai but may expand across the carrier’s
network as time goes on.
That could mean major savings for aid groups as airfreight costs have skyrocketed
amid the pandemic. Demand for flown cargo stands at record levels worldwide.
Emirates made the announcement at Dubai’s International Humanitarian City,
already home to a WHO warehouse that’s been crucial to the distribution of medical
A WHO worker on a forklift moved boxes of tents made in Pakistan and rolls of net
shades from South Korea preparing for the initial flight planned for Thursday.
That will be used to construct field hospitals for India’s overwhelmed health care system.
Nabil Sultan, the divisional senior vice president for Emirates SkyCargo, said the initial
priority would be shipping aid out of Dubai, rather than elsewhere from its network.
While airfreight costs stand at record prices, Sultan said offering free shipping for aid
to India now was important for an airline that has flown to the South Asian country
since the carrier’s founding in 1985.
“Our relationship with India, in particular, goes a long way and at times like this,
I think it’s absolutely essential that we make sure that essential commodities get
to India and to the Indian people,” Sultan told The Associated Press. “This is the time
for us to give back.”