From next month, British Airways will increase the number of cargo-only flights from China to the UK to 21 a week, up from 13 last week, as demand continues to rise during the global coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
From 14 May, flights each week will depart from Shanghai, and seven from Beijing carrying cargo in the hold and, where possible, in the cabin too.
These flights will carry up to 770 tonnes of cargo for the NHS each week, including PPE and ventilators.
This month has seen the airline already operate 13 cargo-only flights from China to the UK carrying NHS supplies. The flights are operated in partnership with the UK Government and IAG Cargo.
The British Embassy in China is working with the Department of Health to procure medical equipment from China and deliver it to NHS hospitals all over the UK.
British Airways’ chairman and chief executive, Alex Cruz, said: “As an airline, we are in a unique position to help in the global response to Covid-19, whether it is through carrying UK residents back home, transporting vital cargo back to the NHS, or through our colleagues who are offering their skills to volunteer.
“We’re proud to be playing our part, and I’m grateful to everyone who is working to make these flights happen.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said: “These flights will help us deliver essential equipment to the NHS and for others who are working on the front line.
“Coronavirus is a global challenge and we are focused on working with our international partners to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.”
British Airways works with its sister company, IAG Cargo, to fly supplies around the world.
Since March, IAG Cargo and airlines within International Airlines Group (IAG) including Aer Lingus and Iberia, have been instrumental in bringing medical supplies to Europe to help in the fight against the impact of Covid-19.
Last week, the airline began carrying cargo in the cabin of its flights, as well as in the hold, for the first time.