The spread of the coronavirus is affecting all businesses in various ways. It has had a particularly devastating effect on the airline industry. Airplanes across the globe are grounded until further notice. But there are a small amount of planes still operating, but not for holidays or cross-country travel – they’re helping out in the battle against covid-19.
Below, we take a look at some of the aviation companies playing their part in tackling problems presented by the pandemic.
A Loganair plane has been converted into an additional air ambulance aircraft, following calls to extend airlifting capability in the isles in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
The twin otter aircraft has been adapted to carry epishuttle isolation pods for the safe carriage of COVID-19 patients by air.
The Loganair aircraft will be based at Glasgow Airport but can operate throughout Scotland.
Loganair’s Chief Executive Jonathon Hinkles said: “Although the circumstances under which all of this work has been undertaken are ones that we’d never have wished to see, I’m heartened that the effort which has gone into this is truly admirable. We will support the Scottish Ambulance Service, the NHS and the island communities who rely on Loganair for their lifeline air services if and when our assistance is needed.”
Virgin Atlantic has teamed up 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 and which will support NHS staff to care for patients.
According to Virgin’s website, 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 go some way towards helping keep the NHS heroes working on the frontlines safe and supporting patients to receive the care they need to beat this virus.
London Stansted Airport
London Stansted Airport in the UK is set to open a drive-in coronavirus testing centre for frontline National Health Service (NHS) workers.
The move is aligned with the government’s efforts to ramp up testing, as the number of Covid-19 cases in the UK crosses 85,000.
The airport site will be used on an appointment basis to quarantine key NHS workers or members of their family showing coronavirus symptoms.
Additionally, the centre will conduct PCR swab tests enabling swift identification of Covid-19 patients.
The long-stay car park at Glasgow Airport in Scotland has transformed into a ‘drive-thru’ mobile testing facility that will be used only for frontline NHS staff.
This is part of the country’s efforts to reduce the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus.
The car park is spread over an area of 17 acres and is located on Abbotsinch Road. This facility is expected to increase the country’s testing and response.
The facility will only be used to diagnose frontline NHS staff. The people who need to provide swab samples will have to make an appointment. Members of the public are not allowed into the facility.
The facility features up to 5 lanes.
Other airports to open testing centres include:
Aberdeen, Stansted, Manchester Airport car park, Gatwick car park, with more potentially emerging in the coming weeks.
Airlines on rescue missions
In March, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said as many as almost one million British nationals could be travelling abroad – the number much greater when you consider travellers from other parts of the world. With holidaymakers still stranded abroad, a number of airlines have taken it upon themselves to send rescue flights to bring these individuals back home.
The FCO has said it is working with various authorities for different countries like India, Nepal, the Philippines and South Africa to organise a number of repatriation flights. The following airlines have been reportedly operating flights for repatriation and essential services over the last few weeks*:
- British Airways
- American Airlines
- Air Lingus
- Cathay Pacific
- Air Canada
- Japan Airlines
- Eastern Airways
- Iceland Air
- Egypt Air
- Bulgaria Air
- Austrian Airlines
This news article can provide more details of the routes the airlines are operating.
*Subject to change at time of writing
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