The Volga-Dnepr Group has been operating as many as five “sterilised” charter flights into China each day to cater for coronavirus related demand.
The group said that on average, three to five charter flights are being operated daily, with a number of preventive measures being taken to ensure the safety of personnel, cargo, and aircraft accordingly.
The airline group, which includes AirBridgeCargo, Volga-Dnepr and Atran, said that flown commodities include masks, sanitiser gels, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment.
Whilst the Russian Federal Air Transport Agency has decided to temporarily limit passenger air traffic between Russia and China as of February 1, there are no current restrictions to cargo airlines.
Furthermore, China has also imposed restrictions on movement both inside and outside the country, with usual operations suspended by a number of Chinese enterprises.
Other airlines have dramatically reduced passenger flights, resulting in restricted cargo capacity.
The group said that its scheduled operation, AirBridgeCargo, has switched some aircraft to its charter operation in order to properly address dynamic market conditions.
“This has resulted in reformulated capacity from scheduled to charter operations from February 4,” the group said.
“With an interim reduced schedule, some of AirBridgeCargo’s operational teams have been transferred to shift working patterns, and employees in China are also being enabled to work remotely.”
Flight departments of all airlines of Volga-Dnepr Group have received counter measure briefings, with personal protective equipment purchased and distributed to all flight crews already.
The centralised Volga-Dnepr Group medical department has introduced regular monitoring of all flight personnel, regardless of global location of flight operation.
“There are no known cases of coronavirus infections of our employees to date,” the airline group said in a statement.
“A working group for operational monitoring and response to the situation has been established at the company’s headquarters to ensure that we are able to respond to any immediate developments,” it added.
“Employees of the Volga-Dnepr medical and flight departments have held discussions with the World Health Organization, Rospotrebnadzor and other entities on methods for personnel protection, handling, and disinfection of aircraft and cargo.”
Volga-Dnepr added that it is considering the introduction of a “Clean Charter” product to ensure the secure transportation of cargo during difficult “epidemiological conditions where we have historically been called upon to support due to the Group’s unique cargo fleet”.