The year 2020 was a year unlike any other for the aviation and the air cargo industry. Faced with the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on global industries and on people’s wellbeing, Emirates SkyCargo redoubled its commitment to being a reliable, global partner to businesses and communities across international markets.
Throughout the year, Emirates SkyCargo continued to deliver essential commodities and connect vital trade lanes across continents by being agile and responding innovatively to unprecedented and rapidly changing market conditions.
Here are 10 pivotal moments when Emirates SkyCargo demonstrated its commitment and leadership to keeping global supply chains operational for essential commodities.
1. 100 destinations in 100 days: When Emirates’ worldwide passenger operations were suspended in late March 2020 in the face of the pandemic, Emirates SkyCargo lost a significant proportion of its global cargo capacity and for a brief period had access only to the network and operations of its fleet of 11 Boeing 777 freighters. However, the cargo carrier acted quickly to rebuild its global operations and within 100 days from 25 March 2020, had managed to reconnect 100 global destinations across six continents with scheduled cargo flights on a weekly basis.
2. Passenger Freighters: In an unprecedented move to face an extraordinary situation, in late March 2020, Emirates SkyCargo started using Emirates’ Boeing 777-300ER aircraft for cargo-only flights with around 40-50 tonnes of cargo loaded in the bellyhold of the aircraft. The flights were used to deliver PPE, test kits and other essential cargo.
3. Seat and overhead bin loading: In yet another historic moment in April 2020, Emirates SkyCargo started loading PPE and other select commodities on the seats in Economy Class and in the overhead bins inside the aircraft cabin to make more room for essential cargo.
4. Modification of Economy Class for floor loading of cargo: Faced with a surge in demand for the movement of PPE, medical supplies, food and other essential commodities, Emirates modified 10 Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft at the Emirates Engineering Centre in Dubai to remove passenger seats from Economy Class entirely to facilitate additional cargo volume of up to 132 cubic metres in the aircraft. These aircraft have played a key role in providing connectivity between production and consumer markets.Since June 2020, Emirates has worked on converting additional Boeing 777-300ER aircraft to meet the global demand for air cargo capacity.
5. A380 aircraft for cargo operations: In October, Emirates SkyCargo started operating its Airbus A380 aircraft for select cargo charter flights to meet customer demand for additional cargo capacity. The first A380 cargo charter transported medical supplies from Seoul to Amsterdam via Dubai.
6. COVID-19 vaccines dedicated hub: Recognising the scale of the logistics effort required to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to people around the world, Emirates SkyCargo began planning in August 2020 to make ready the infrastructure, the capabilities and the expertise to optimally transport vaccines around the world. In October 2020, Emirates SkyCargo announced that it was setting up the world’s largest dedicated airside hub for COVID-19 vaccines at its cargo terminal at Dubai South and that it was establishing a rapid response team to handle and expedite any requests for transportation of vaccines. Together with Emirates’ dedicated pharma facility at Dubai International Airport, Emirates SkyCargo has over 15,000 sq metres of storage and handling space dedicated for pharmaceuticals and vaccines in Dubai.
7. Arrival of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for COVID-19: Emirates SkyCargo crossed a historical milestone when it flew in the first batch of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines destined to the UAE for the Dubai Health Authority on 22 December from Brussels on flight EK 182.
8. Commitment to humanitarian causes: Emirates SkyCargo continued to showcase its commitment to the wellbeing of communities impacted by humanitarian crises. In August 2020, Emirates SkyCargo participated in the initiative to create an airbridge between Dubai and Lebanon by dedicating air cargo capacity for relief material to be transported to Beirut. Emirates SkyCargo followed this up by also signing an MoU with the International Humanitarian City, the world’s largest hub for humanitarian aid based in Dubai, to work together to develop innovative logistics solutions for crisis relief efforts.
9. Hola Guadalajara: In September 2020, Emirates SkyCargo launched twice weekly freighter flights to Guadalajara, Mexico, adding a new destination that had previously not been serviced by the carrier and creating more opportunities for trade and commerce
10. First Anniversary of Emirates Delivers: Emirates Delivers, the e-commerce delivery platform developed by Emirates SkyCargo and available for UAE residents to shop from US websites has successfully completed its first year of operations delivering many a smile and cheer to its customers shopping online in the UAE.