Emirates' cargo operations have kept 'the wolf from the cash door,' says Tim Clark

Dubai-based carrier has been using 96 aircraft from its 777 fleet to transport cargo over the world during the Covid-19 pandemic

Emirates have also been using 11 freighters, utilising 96 in total of the 153, 777 aircraft in its fleet.

Emirates Airline president Sir Tim Clark has admitted the Dubai-based carrier’s increased cargo operations during the current global pandemic has kept “the wolf from the cash door”.

Emirates’ passenger services were grounded from March 25 as part of movement restrictions announced by the UAE Government.

Although limited repatriations flights have been operated since then, the bulk of the work for Emirates has come through its SkyCargo delivery service.

Clark revealed that the company has been using 85 of the 777-300 ER, which are essentially passenger aircraft, but have a large cargo door at the back of the aircraft with the ability to fit in 14 palettes in the hold below decks – around 40 tonnes. They have also taken seats out and filled up the hat racks.

He said the initial demand has been ramped up as the pandemic spread across the world.

“As demand for PPE, for pharmaceuticals rocketed, there was an acute shortage of supply, so we were able to move very quickly and we converted ourselves into a mini UPS as one of my head of planning was told,” he said.

Emirates have also been using 11 freighters, utilising 96 in total of the 153, 777 aircraft in its fleet.

Clark said: “That’s not going to deal with the loss of passenger income but it certainly keeps the wolf from the cash door, which is the real bugbear of the airline industry at the moment. We’re trying to mitigate the effects of having the whole A380 fleet on the ground, which is 115 aircraft.”

Early last month, Emirates SkyCargo revealed that it was operating flights to around 60 global destinations on a scheduled basis and to many more destinations as charter and ad hoc operations.

Clark previously said that he doesn’t expect passenger business to return to pre-Covid-19 levels until 2022 or even 2024, although he admitted there appears to be no let-up in demand for cargo operations.

“It’s not been easy but we’ve done the best we can to optimise the best opportunities we get on that freight side,” he said.

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