As many countries in Europe close their borders and head into lockdown, aid-filled aircraft are arriving from China. Chinese airlines are sending essentials to various countries in Europe as the pandemic worsens conditions in the region. Among the vital supplies being dropped off are face masks, hand sanitizer, and gloves.
China steps in to tackle COVID-19
China has been working to control the transmission of COVID-19 since the start of this year. However, whilst many of its cities have been on lockdown for months, changes are only now happening in Europe. Recently, there have been many countries closing their borders to foreign travelers and airline schedules throughout Europe have been significantly reduced, leaving thousands stranded far from their homes.
China, to some extent, has its transmission problem under control with a decreasing number of new cases being reported each day thanks to its stringent measures and quick response. What’s more, despite a population of 1.4 billion, the country seems adequately prepared in terms of supplies. Some of those surplus provisions are now making their way over to Europe.
Belgium, Spain, Prague, and the Netherlands have all received donations over the past week of face masks, gloves and alcohol rub from China.
KLM partnership helps deliver throughout the Netherlands
For most of the deliveries, it seems that Chinese airlines have been liaising with European governments in some form rather than individual airlines. The exception to that rule is KLM. On 18th March, it received the first shipment of aid from China. Xiamen Airlines, which is one of three Chinese airlines that partner with KLM, delivered 90,000 face masks and 50,000 pairs of gloves. KLM gratefully received these items and will now distribute the items throughout Dutch healthcare units.
In a statement, Pieter Elbers, the CEO and President of KLM said:
“Help of this nature from our Chinese partners China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines, and Xiamen Airlines is both incredibly generous and much appreciated…These are incredibly difficult times for our country and our company, so we are very pleased with this support for KLM and for the Netherlands. Less than two months ago, we at KLM made a donation to China and now we have received fantastic and generous help ourselves. This certainly feels good.”
China Eastern to the rescue in Europe
Earlier this week, China Eastern Airlines proudly shared information about the coronavirus response it had led in Europe. On Monday 16th March, the airline serviced Belgium with a delivery of 300,000 face masks. The following day, the airline returned to Europe with a shipment of 500,000 face masks for locked down Spain. Arriving into Zaragoza Airport, officials from the Spanish Ministry of Health and related organizations accepted the donation.
There have also been reports of Chinese aid deliveries in the Czech Republic. On Twitter, Flightradar24 showed that three flights were bound for Prague. On 20th March, a China Eastern Airlines A330 flew from Xi’an to Prague to drop off medical supplies.
The following day, two more flights flew into Prague with aid. Again, China Eastern Airlines operated a flight- a Boeing 777 from Shanghai to Prague loaded with essential provisions. The other delivery came in the form of an Antonov An-124 cargo plane, which arrived into Pardubice. Onboard that aircraft were 106 tonnes of medical supplies that had come from Shenzhen. The shipment included respirators, rapid tests, and protective suits as well as five million face masks.
Whilst things might not be looking up at this particular moment in time, it’s comforting to know that international kindness is not threatening to disappear.