LONDON – Aer Lingus (EI) announced the last of their Critical Supply Operation flights to China on June 26.

The first of these special flights departed Beijing (PEK) for Dublin (DUB) on March 29 as EI 9019. The Airbus A330 was the first flight of a Critical Supply Operations contracted by the Health Service Executive.

The operation involved the transportation of medical equipment such as masks, goggles, gloves and gowns. EI announced at the start of the operation that the operation is due to last around 2 months.

Commited to Helping Supply

On the flights, the crew comprised of five pilots, two engineers and one ground operations team member on the 28-hour round trip.

At the start of the operation, EI CEO Sean Doyle said “These are unprecedented and extraordinarily challenging times, not only for us as an airline, but for the entire nation and the health and wellbeing of all Irish Citizens.”

Mr. Doyle also added that the airline is “committed to helping supply the essential medical equipment and supplies that our country needs for the fight against COVID-19.”

Aer Lingus operated the flights to PEK using Airbus A330-300 aircraft. As well as loading the cargo bays in a conventional way, EI also used the passenger cabin as another cargo bay as seen in other airlines.

Airbus A330-300 in Beijing (PEK) for the Critical Supply Operation – Photo Courtesy of Aer Lingus

259, 28-hour round-trips

However, unlike most other airlines, EI did not remove the seats from the cabin to increase capacity.

The airline has stated that securing overly flights for the routing and approval from the Irish Aviation Authority, getting permits and landing slots in Beijing, and coordinating with handling agents there was completed in seven days. These tasks usually take many months to complete.

Overall, during the operation, the airline has completed 259, 28-hour round-trips. This equates to a distance of 4.75 million kilometers flown. The operation has safely landed 4,000 tonnes of cargo into Ireland. This equates to over 86 million pieces of Personal Protective Equipment.

Aer Lingus has added that whilst ending these flights, they look forward to welcoming more customers onboard scheduled flights soon.