China Eastern Flies 17+ Hours To Deliver Vaccines To The Dominican Republic


Last week, China Eastern Airlines operated a type of flight that, in recent months, has become an increasingly common phenomenon. Namely, through its airfreight partner China Cargo Airlines, it delivered more than a million coronavirus vaccines to the Dominican Republic. Let’s take a closer look at this mammoth pharmaceutical journey.

China Cargo Airlines Boeing 777F Amsterdam Getty
The flight from Beijing to Santo Domingo made a stop in Chicago on the way. Photo: Getty Images

A very special delivery

China Eastern Airlines recently announced that, last week, its airfreight partner, China Cargo Airlines, delivered a million-dose shipment of vaccines to the Dominican Republic. The mammoth pharmaceutical journey took place on March 17th, with data from showing that flight CK5001 left Beijing Capital (PEK) at 11:13 local time.

Rather than flying directly to the Dominican Republic, the flight first made a stop at Chicago O’Hare (ORD). It landed there after 12 hours and seven minutes in the air, touching down at 10:20 local time. After a layover of just under two hours, it was back in the air shortly after.

The second and final leg of flight CK5001 departed Chicago at 12:15, half an hour late. After a further three hours and 45 minutes of flight, it finally touched down at Las Américas International (SDQ) at 17:00 local time. This airport serves Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. This brought an end to a herculean journey lasting over 17 hours.

The first leg of the journey lasted more than 12 hours as the aircraft flew from Beijing to Chicago O’Hare. Image:

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The Chinese embassy in the Dominican Republic confirmed on Twitter that the country had purchased one million doses of the Sinovac vaccine. Additionally, the Chinese government donated 50,000 Sinopharm vaccines and 51,200 syringes to the Dominican Republic. Raquel Peña, the country’s Vice-President and Head of the Health Cabinet, said that the vaccines had brought hope to the people of the Dominican Republic.


The aircraft involved

The aircraft that flew the large shipment of vaccines from China to the Dominican Republic was a Boeing 777F. According to, China Cargo Airlines’ fleet features eight of these aircraft, with an average age of 8.1 years old.

Chicago-Santo Domingo
The aircraft concluded its trip to Santo Domingo with a sector from Chicago lasting just under four hours. Image:

Data from suggests that the registration of the plane in question was B-2083. This aircraft is slightly older than average when it comes to the China Cargo Airlines fleet, clocking in at 9.7 years old. The carrier first took delivery of this plane in July 2011.


The aircraft was on the ground in Santo Domingo for just over five hours. Its return flight first took it, once again, to Chicago. However, rather than continuing to Beijing, it instead returned to Shanghai. Since then, it has continued to work an intensive schedule, delivering cargo to destinations worldwide, including Amsterdam, Los Angeles, and Singapore.

China Cargo Airlines Dominican Republic Vaccines
As well as the one million vaccines purchased by the Dominican Republic, the Chinese government donated a further 50,000 doses. Photo: China Eastern Airlines

An increasingly common type of flight

The worldwide rollout of coronavirus vaccines has seen an increase in long-haul delivery flights, such as China Eastern’s service to Santo Domingo. January, in particular, saw a flurry of activity on this front.

This included an Emirates Boeing 777, which delivered more than two million doses from India to Brazil via Dubai. Elsewhere in South America, January also saw an Aerolineas Argentinas Airbus A330 arrive in Buenos Aires with a shipment of Sputnik vaccines from Moscow. The previous month, a SWISS Airbus A340 had also transported a 14-ton shipment to Brazil.

What do you make of this long-haul vaccine delivery flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!