Virgin Atlantic Ferries Vital NHS Supplies From Shanghai

Virgin Atlantic has ferried vital medical supplies for the NHS from Shanghai. The flight comes as the British carrier operated its first-ever cargo flight last week. The supplies were flown to the UK earlier today.

Virgin Atlantic, Cargo, Medical Aid
Virgin Atlantic today flew vital medical supplies to the United Kingdom. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Atlantic has been seriously affected by the ongoing aviation crisis which has seen the airline left operating just three scheduled routes. The British carrier is now only flying commercially to Los Angeles, New York, and Hong Kong.

However, earlier today the airline operated a flight with no passengers to Shanghai. This flight was used to bring ventilators, essential medical supplies, and PPE equipment to the United Kingdom for the National Health Service (NHS).

Boxes as passengers

Yesterday, a Virgin Atlantic Boeing 787 departed from London Heathrow at 15:15. The 787-9 aircraft, G-VFAN, was flying to Shanghai. Once the aircraft had arrived in the Chinese city, it began to be filled with boxes.

The boxes were full of 350,000 items needed by the NHS to help deal with the UK’s current health crisis. According to the airline, this included “respirators, ventilator parts, face masks, scrubs, aprons and eye protection”.

Virgin Atlantic, Cargo, Medical Aid
Both the cargo and passenger compartments were loaded with supplies such as masks. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

The flight departed from Shanghai at 11:22 in the morning. It then proceeded to fly through China, Mongolia, Russia, Estonia, Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Netherlands before arriving back in the United Kingdom. In total, G-VFAN’s flight time was 11-hours and 42-minutes.

Virgin Atlantic, Cargo, Medical Aid
The flight took almost 12-hours. Photo:

Commenting on the flight, Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, commented,

“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.”

Helping out at a difficult time

The Virgin Group has been keen to show that it is there for the United Kingdom in its time of need. Many Virgin Atlantic staff, including cabin crew, are facing a period of unemployment as flights simply aren’t operating.

Virgin Atlantic, Cargo, Medical Aid
Of course, safety came first! Photo: Virgin Atlantic

However, such members of staff undergo fairly comprehensive medical instruction while completing their cabin crew training. If you’re interested in what this entails, British Airways gave Simple Flying a taste of its cabin crew training scheme late last year.

However, Virgin Atlantic isn’t letting its staff’s skills go to waste while they’re not flying around the world. The NHS, Virgin Atlantic, and easyJet are working in partnership to get staff working in the UK’s Nightingale hospitals. These are makeshift hospitals designed to cope with the additional demand for services that the NHS is expecting.

Virgin Atlantic, Cargo, Medical Aid
The pilots were aware of their precious cargo. Photo: Virgin Atlantic

The first of these hospitals was opened today in London’s Excel Centre. This is just across the road from London City Airport, which is closed for the time being. In slightly more morbid news, however, last weekend we reported that discussions are underway to turn a part of Birmingham Airport into a morgue.

What do you make of Virgin’s cargo flight? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!