Airlines Virgin Atlantic and Qatar Airways have rallied to support the humanitarian relief effort in India as the country battles the world’s worst spike in Covid-19 infections.
Virgin Atlantic has partnered with Khalsa Aid to deliver over 200 boxes of oxygen concentrators to Delhi.
The concentrators – devices that concentrates the oxygen from a gas supply by selectively removing nitrogen to supply an oxygen-enriched product gas stream – will be flown onboard VS300 flying from Heathrow on Saturday.
Virgin has offered carry further oxygen concentrators on its flights to India next week.
The airline said senior first officer Jas Singh, who will be flying the essential medical supplies out to India this Saturday, was “instrumental” in partnering with Khalsa Aid.
Training captain Chris Hall steered an internal campaign to raise funds to obtain further oxygen concentrators, with more than £13,000 raised in three days.
The airline plans to secure additional vital oxygen aid for The Red Cross, and is encouraging people to donate here.
The Virgin Atlantic Foundation has also committed to a donation to Save The Children’s Emergency Fund for the current Covid-19 crisis in India.
Jas Singh said: “Having seen the escalating situation in India, I wanted to do everything within my power to support the cause. I was scheduled to fly out this Saturday and so got in touch with Khalsa Aid to see if we could carry the oxygen concentrators they had been crowd sourcing to purchase. It has been awe-inspiring to see the generosity of my colleagues, friends and family.”
Dominic Kennedy, managing director of cargo at Virgin Atlantic, added: “We have been overwhelmed with offers of support from our people and our suppliers. Following the success of crowd funding work by Jas Singh and Chris Hall, we are immensely proud to be able to support India at this time.
“Virgin Atlantic Cargo has supported Covid-19 relief efforts throughout the pandemic, successfully partnering with the Department of Health and Social Care and the NHS bringing over 8 million kilos of essential medical equipment, supplies and PPE into the UK.”
Qatar Airways has committed to fly medical aid and equipment to India free of charge from global suppliers in support of international efforts to tackle the second Covid-19 surge.
The airline plans to transport 300 tonnes of aid from across its global network to Doha where it will be flown in a three-flight cargo aircraft convoy to destinations across India where it is most needed.
The shipment will include PPE equipment, oxygen canisters and other essential medical items, and consists of donations by individuals and companies around the world in addition to existing cargo orders.
In the early stages of the pandemic, the carrier provided similar aid flights to China, shipping supplies to Beijing, Guangzhou and Shanghai in February 2020.
Qatar Airways group chief executive Akbar Al Baker said: “The state of Qatar has a long and special relationship with India, and we have watched with great sorrow as Covid-19 has once again caused a significant challenge to the country.
“As one of the world air cargo leaders, with an extensive international network, we stand ready to provide humanitarian support by transporting these much-needed supplies, and help the country fight back against this appalling virus.”
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