Virgin Atlantic flies in crucial medical supplies for the NHS

Medical supplies are loaded onto a Virgin Atlantic plane for a cargo flight
Virgin Atlantic
Head shot of Tania Steere.  She is smiling, with long, wavy blonde hair
by Tania Steere
2 April 2020

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.

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. 

Dominic Kennedy, managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, commented: "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 into the UK. With special thanks to the British Embassy in Beijing, the CAA and the UK Government in expediting clearances to make this possible.

“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.” 

Image from Virgin Atlantic
Image from Virgin Atlantic

Jean Oelwang, founding CEO and president of Virgin Unite, the charitable foundation of the Virgin Group, added: “Millions of first responders, nurses, doctors, hospital janitors and others are working tirelessly day and night on the frontlines of this crisis. They are true heroes in this crisis and we are humbled to have the opportunity to get this much needed equipment to them.”  

Virgin Atlantic is one of several Virgin Group companies supporting the NHS in its response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The airline’s highly skilled people have been approached to volunteer at several initiatives including the new NHS Nightingale field hospital, the London Ambulance Service, Epsom Hospital Carshalton and for the NHS Volunteer Responders.

Virgin Atlantic
Virgin Atlantic

Virgin Care, which partners with the NHS and Local Authorities, coordinated the request and supported initial communications with the NHS. Its team of NHS staff are on the frontline working alongside their colleagues from across the NHS in England, helping to free up hospital capacity and support people in their own homes. Over the past decade, we have invested more than £70 million into Virgin Care to ensure it can continue to support a free and efficient NHS. We’re proud of this partnership, have never and will never make a profit from it, and have pledged to invest any future profits back into the NHS.

To find out more about the cargo flight, head over to Virgin Atlantic.