Coronavirus: Aer Lingus transports critical supplies between Dublin and Beijing

Aer Lingus coronavirus cargo

Aer Lingus has been operating up to five non-stop cargo flights per day to fly critical medical supplies and equipment from China to Dublin as part of Ireland’s fight against coronavirus (covid-19).

In mid-March, the Irish carrier was contracted by the Health Service Executive of Ireland for the critical operation, which will see the airline transport vital supplies between the two countries over three months.

“Getting an operation of this scale and complexity off the ground in one week is unprecedented. It took extraordinary efforts from individuals and teams in every corner of our business,” said the airline on its company blog.

“Alongside our pilot community, our ground and flight operations, maintenance and engineering, strategy and planning, commercial, procurement, legal and finance teams worked around the clock to achieve the impossible in record time.

“Securing overfly rights for the routing and approvals from the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), getting permits and landing slots in Beijing, coordinating with handling agents and freight forwarders in Beijing and creating a schedule and roster for the extensive flying programme were just some of the hurdles overcome in seven days. These tasks normally take months to achieve.

It added: “The support and expertise offered by our partners in this endeavour, including IAG Cargo, the Irish Air Line Pilots’ Association (IALPA) and its Safety and Technical Committee, and the IAA was instrumental.”

Five pilots (two Captains and three First Officers, one of whom must be qualified as a Relief Commander), two engineers and a loadmaster (an aircrew member responsible for the loading and stowage of cargo) are needed to undertake each 28-hour round trip from Dublin to Beijing Capital International Airport (a distance of approx. 4,500 nautical miles).

To maximise its cargo transportation potential, Aer Lingus’ maintenance and engineering teams have developed innovative solutions, including loading materials into the main passenger cabin – as well as into the conventional loading bays under the belly of its A330 aircraft – for the duration of the operation. This approach was approved by the IAA.

Each batch from Beijing comprises 600 tonnes of materials, including personal protective equipment like masks, goggles, gowns, gloves.

With up to five daily flights, Aer Lingus’ Dublin – Beijing operation is now its busiest daily route from Dublin Airport.

The first critical supply flight EI 9019 EI-EAV, an Airbus A330 St Ronán, arrived in Dublin on Sunday 29 March from Beijing.

Sign In

Lost your password?