By Bernd Debusmann Jr
Emirates SkyCargo is increasingly using re-purposed Boeing 777 passenger aircraft for cargo operations
Emirates SkyCargo is operating 160 cargo flights on re-purposed passenger aircraft in the next week alone and is adding new cargo destinations as it works to keep up with the demands of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, according to Nabil Sultan, Emirates divisional senior vice president, cargo.
In an interview with Arabian Business, Sultan said that amid the pandemic, Emirates has had “to use our freighter fleet to the maximum in order to keep up with the demand and maintain global supply chains up and running and to ensure that food and medical goods are reaching people who need them the most.”
Additionally, Sultan said that in a short period of time, Emirates had to establish a network and schedule for dedicated cargo flights being conducted on Boeing 777 passenger aircraft, as well as work with authorities to obtain permission to operate the flights.
“Currently we are operating these passenger aircraft freighters to over 30 destinations globally,” he added. “But our operations for dedicated cargo flights on Boeing 777 passenger aircraft are growing on a daily basis.”
In the next week, Sultan said, Emirates SkyCargo is conducting 160 cargo flight departures on passenger aircraft, compared to approximately 90 last week – in addition to 160 that were operated on dedicated freighters.
“We have added more destinations including Singapore, Bangkok, Taipei, Casablanca and Malta, taking our destination count to nearly 40 cities,” he added.
Some destinations – such as Hong Kong – are currently operating anywhere between 6 and 8 freighter flights a day at times.
“This is a lot more than they would do in normal conditions,” Sultan added.
Emirates SkyCargo is using 11 Boeing 777 freighters to bolster its existing freighter capacity.
Most of those aircraft are being used to carry relief materials – ranging from hand sanitisers and face masks to ventilators – as well as food.
On April1, Emirates SkyCargo shifted all its operations to Dubai International Airport and temporarily suspended handling operations at Dubai World Central (DWC).
Sultan said the move was made in order to “streamline operations and reduce costs given the current circumstances.”
Earlier this week, Emirates re-started limited passenger operations that are open only to foreign citizens wanting to leave the UAE.