In recent weeks, China has been fighting hard to contain the spread of the coronavirus outbreak and treat those who already have the disease. In the process, the country has quickly burned through its substantial stock of medical supplies. Responding to this, Qatar Airways is volunteering free air cargo transportation for medical relief aid in coordination with Chinese Embassies and Consulates worldwide.
The first delivery
The first delivery of medical relief aid by Qatar Airways Cargo was flown to Shanghai on 2 February. This shipment included 100,000 medical-grade N95 respiratory masks as well as 2,700 medical-grade disposable latex gloves. These items will go to healthcare professionals at hospitals in Hubei Province, the epicenter of the virus.
“We are taking immediate actions to help alleviate the heartbreaking and devastating situation in China. We hope to make a positive contribution, leveraging our strengths as one of the world’s leading air cargo carriers and strong network of partnerships.” -His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive
Donations from Chinese communities around the world
Chinese businesses and communities in Qatar alone have already donated 700kg of medical aid. This number will grow as medical supply donations from Chinese communities worldwide come in.
In fact, donations from these communities are flooding-in worldwide due to reports of shortages of medical supplies reported by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Qatar Airways Cargo freighters are part of the Qatar Airways global network. This includes 170 destinations that feed into its China cargo gateways located in the cities of Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong, and Macau.
Going by the name the “Green Channel”, this initiative for complimentary air transportation was introduced in a joint announcement by Qatar Airways and the Chinese Embassy in Qatar:
“I would like to thank Qatar Airways for opening a ‘Green Channel’ for transporting these supplies…China and Qatar are good friends. We highly appreciate the support for the motherland of Chinese citizens and companies in Qatar, which further strengthens our confidence to win this battle. This will surely write another glorious story in the history of China–Qatar relations.” -His Excellency Mr. Zhou Jian, Chinese Ambassador to Qatar
Providing assistance, taking necessary precautions
Qatar Airways is also working closely with the WHO and local authorities worldwide to ensure the health and safety of its employees and passengers. In fact, the airline says its modern fleet includes High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filtration systems. These systems eliminate 99.97% of fine airborne particles from circulating air in cabins.
Although Qatar Airways is contributing through its cargo wing, it made the decision to suspend passenger flights to mainland China as of 3 February. The airline is reviewing its operations weekly to assess the situation. Qatar Airways will immediately reinstate its flights once restrictions ease.
However, Qatar Airways Cargo freighter services to Guangzhou and Shanghai remain unchanged. The Qatar Airways Cargo fleet includes two Boeing 747-8 freighters, 19 Boeing 777 freighters, as well as five Airbus A330 freighters.
Reports indicate that Qatar Airways is the first and only international airline to make a delivery of this kind. However, this statement is up for debate as it depends on whether or not FedEx is considered an airline.
According to Air Cargo News, on 26 and 27 January, the worldwide courier transported medical supplies from the United States and Japan to Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport. Supplies delivered by FedEx included N95 masks, medical gloves, plastic goggles, disinfectant wipes and antibiotics. From Guangzhou’s airport, China Post delivered these shipments to Wuhan.
Do you think other countries and their airlines will follow suit? Let us know what you think in the comments.
We reached out to Qatar Airways for additional comment. However, no response was received at the time of publishing this article.