Emirates will begin shipping aid from the World Health Organization and other groups into India for free to help fight a devastating outbreak of the coronavirus, the airline said today.
Dubai’s long-haul carrier, Emirates, which have around 95 flights weekly to nine cities in India, initially involves aid already in Dubai but may expand across the carrier’s network as time goes on. That could mean major savings for aid groups as airfreight costs have skyrocketed amid the pandemic. Demand for flown cargo stands at record levels worldwide.
Emirates made the announcement at Dubai’s International Humanitarian City. The divisional senior vice president for Emirates SkyCargo, Nabil Sultan, said, “The initial priority would be shipping aid out of Dubai, rather than elsewhere from its network. While airfreight costs stand at record prices, Sultan said offering free shipping for aid to India now was important for an airline that has flown to the South Asian country since the carrier’s founding in 1985.”
“Our relationship with India in particular goes a long way and at times like this, I think it’s absolutely essential that we make sure that essential commodities get to India and to the Indian people, This is the time for us to give back” Sultan told the media
As the Indian diaspora tries to send in more aid, Sultan said, “The airline would evaluate whether to expand the program to include shipments coming from outside of Dubai as well. Operating with groups already in Dubai ensures that they have the right paperwork and contacts to make sure the most vital aid reach there first.”
As India has grown into an economic powerful country, so has Emirates and its base of Dubai International Airport, the world’s busiest for international travel. The airline serves as a key link in East-West travel.
Passenger numbers from India for Emirates were just under 3 million in 2008, but grew to 5.5 million a decade later. That’s some 10% of Emirates overall annual passenger load, with more coming from the surrounding countries on the subcontinent. Millions of Indians also live in the United Arab Emirates and comprise a key part of its labor force.