IAG Cargo are making over 60 round trips from Ireland to China in a mission to transport medical supplies and equipment that will play a crucial role in Ireland’s national effort against COVID-19.
The aircrafts, five of Aer Lingus’ biggest, A330 jets, are being flown back and forth from Beijing by dozens of pilots. This includes a spare pilot for every trip, but because of unprecedented circumstances and quarantine regulations, they’re unable to disembark the plane as normal when they reach their destination.
And while air cargo is normally transported in the belly of an aircraft, the configuration for these planes also looks a little different. The front section of each has become a sealed-off resting area for those on board, and seats normally reserved for passengers are now loaded with PPE (personal protective equipment), masks, goggles and others goods required in hospitals and medical facilities across Ireland.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), it is estimated that, each month, the worldwide COVID-19 response will require around 89 million medical masks, 76 million pairs of examination gloves and 1.6 million pairs of goggles.
The huge order from the Irish HSE (Health and Safety Executive) has been broken up into five batches for delivery which are expected to continue until May. The initial batch is so large that it requires ten flights alone, the first of which touched down in Ireland on Sunday 29th March.