Virgin Atlantic organised a special charter flight carrying supplies and PPE equipment for the NHS from Shanghai to London.

The Boeing 787-9 aircraft arrived into Heathrow earlier on Friday carrying more than 350,000 supplies including respirators, ventilator parts, face masks, scrubs, aprons and eye protection.

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Virgin is operating cargo-only flights amid the pandemic – a first for the airline since its launch in 1984.

The airline’s cabin crew have also been approached to volunteer at the new NHS Nightingale Hospital, the London Ambulance Service, and other NHS Hospitals and for the NHS Volunteer Responders.

Managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo Dominic Kennedy, said: “We are incredibly grateful to the NHS for everything they are doing for the nation in extremely challenging circumstances, as they respond to the Covid-19 crisis.

“We’re pleased we can play a part in supporting them, by bringing crucial supplies in to the UK. With special thanks to the British Embassy in Beijing, the CAA and the UK Government in expediting clearances to make this possible.

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“Despite a decrease in passengers travelling, demand to transport cargo remains strong, keeping global supply chains running and transporting essential supplies around the world. We’re looking forward to continuing to partner with the Department for Health and the NHS, working with them on a number of flights over the next few weeks, to bring in the supplies that the teams here in the UK urgently need to care for patients. Thanks also to Guy’s and St Thomas’ for their support in helping to organise this.”