Virgin Atlantic has said that it has partnered with Virgin Unite, the Virgin Group’s foundation, and Virgin Care to fly a special charter flight from Shanghai to London, bringing in ventilators, essential medical supplies and PPE equipment on behalf of the Department of Health.
The Boeing 787-9 Virgin Atlantic plane is carrying over 350,000 items of essential PPE supplies and medical equipment including respirators, ventilator parts, face masks, scrubs, aprons and eye protection. These essential items will support NHS staff working on the frontlines.
Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, commented: ‘We are incredibly grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing for the nation in extremely challenging circumstances, as they respond to the Covid-19 crisis. We’re pleased we can play a part in supporting them, by bringing crucial supplies in to the UK. With special thanks to the British Embassy in Beijing, the CAA and the UK Government in expediting clearances to make this possible.
‘Despite a decrease in passengers travelling, demand to transport cargo remains strong, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. We’re looking forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on a number of flights over the next few weeks, to bring in the supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients.’
Jean Oelwang, Founding CEO and President of Virgin Unite, the charitable foundation of the Virgin Group, added: ‘Millions of first responders, nurses, doctors, hospital janitors and others are working tirelessly day and night on the frontlines of this crisis. They are true heroes in this crisis and we are humbled to have the opportunity to get this much needed equipment to them.’
Virgin Atlantic is one of several Virgin Group companies supporting the NHS in its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The airline’s staff were approached to volunteer at several initiatives including the new NHS Nightingale field hospital, the London Ambulance Service, Epsom Hospital Carshalton and for the NHS Volunteer Responders.
Virgin Care, which partners with the NHS and Local Authorities, is working with colleagues from across the NHS in England, helping to free up hospital capacity and support people in their own homes. Over the past decade Virgin has invested more than £70m into Virgin Care to ensure it can continue to support the NHS.