May 10 (Reuters) – Emirates airline said on Sunday it will fly medical supplies from Dubai to nine cities in India free of charge from this week to help battle a devastating upsurge in the coronavirus.
International aid has poured in for India, where record infection rates have overwhelmed hospitals, depleting medicines, oxygen tanks and other supplies.
Earlier this month, Qatar Airways also airlifted 300 tonnes of aid free of charge from Doha to India.
Emirates will provide free spare capacity to transport supplies from charities based in Dubai, divisional senior vice president Nabil Sultan told reporters, saying the mechanism could later be extended to bring aid from other parts.
“We are absolutely committed to helping India,” he said.
The supplies will be organised through Dubai’s International Humanitarian City, a hub used by many non-governmental organisations to transport aid globally. Supplies would be flown for free until further notice, Sultan said.
The first flight under the new “airbridge” is scheduled to depart for New Delhi on May 13 carrying 12.6 tonnes of multi-purpose tents from the World Health Organization (WHO).
India reported 4,092 new deaths from the virus on Sunday, bringing the total to 242,362. Infections in the last 24 hours rose to 403,738, a near record, increasing the total since the pandemic started to 22.3 million.
Emirates operates 95 weekly flights to nine Indian cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Cochin, Hyderabad and Trivandrum. Those flights offer about 5,000 tonnes of weekly cargo capacity.