Etihad Cargo is set to use its Boeing 787-10 aircraft fleet as passenger freighters to support its cargo-only service amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

The fleet will complement its Boeing 777 Freighters and initially operate 34 weekly flights to ten markets.

With 12 lower deck pallets and four containers, the aircraft will carry payloads weighing up to 45 tonnes. 

This enhanced capacity will allow Etihad Cargo to ensure continuity and imports of essentials such as fruits, vegetables, meat, medical supplies, mail and e-commerce into the UAE.

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Based on entry permits, the freighter network will serve India, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and other markets. 

More flights will also be added to Riyadh, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Etihad Aviation Group Cargo and Logistics managing director Abdulla Mohamed Shadid said: “As the national carrier to the UAE, Etihad is working closely with the UAE government to ensure the country is well served and the needs of the people residing in the UAE are unaffected while continuing to play our role as a facilitator of global trade between the East and the West.”

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“In the current environment and as per our leadership’s guidance, it is essential these trade lanes remain open, and with the addition on this capacity we are able to serve those constrained markets that face decreased passenger freight operations, offering a strategic cargo lifeline and supporting the continuity of the global trade ecosystem.”

Etihad suspended all its passenger services to and from the UAE following the order from the National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority, as well as the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the UAE.

Air Canada recently started operating its aircraft for cargo-only flights through its Air Canada Cargo division to Europe leveraging its 787 aircraft fleet.