Abu Dhabi Airports announced its support for global efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic by ensuring the safe, secure and efficient transport of essential supplies and equipment through Abu Dhabi International Airport, in addition to facilitating a number of repatriation and humanitarian flights.
Abu Dhabi Airports disclosed in a statement its various efforts in facilitating cargo and airfreight, repatriation and humanitarian flights, as well as the health and safety measures it has undertaken, amid the pandemic.
Shareef Al Hashmi, Chief Executive Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said, “This is a critical time for the aviation sector and our nation as we come together to combat the global COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to ensuring the health and safety of our employees, stakeholders and passengers as we continue to operate our airports and facilities in order to provide our communities and healthcare centres with the goods and equipment they need.”
“We do not take this responsibility lightly and have mobilised special teams to enhance our cargo operations and facilitate the necessary repatriation and humanitarian flights departing from Abu Dhabi International Airport. I am especially proud of our employees’ continued dedication and commitment during this challenging time,” he added.
Abu Dhabi International Airport is the primary gateway to Abu Dhabi and a key global transit hub for passengers and airfreight, offering connections to the world’s key markets. Its specialist cargo facilities offer significant capacity for transhipments and the efficient handling of time and temperature-sensitive goods.
Waleed Salem Al Hemeiri, Acting Deputy Chief Operations Officer of Abu Dhabi Airports, said, “Abu Dhabi International Airport has implemented a range of special measures across its cargo and passenger operations, including workforce cluster management, thermal imaging cameras at key transit areas, free COVID-19 tests for passengers and employees and roster realignment to ensure the continued safe and efficient management of vital supplies and repatriation flights.”
“We are coordinating with all relevant authorities, partners and suppliers at Abu Dhabi International Airport to bolster the UAE’s efforts to protect public health and maintain the integrity of our operations,” added Al Hemeiri.
Cargo operations at the airport are ongoing 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, facilitating the supply of vital equipment and goods to communities and healthcare facilities across the UAE and the world. During the month of March, the airport processed 7,315 cargo flights and 51,885,686 million kgs of cargo, handling on average more than 1,800 flights and 13 million kgs of cargo per week.
Over the past month, the UAE capital’s cargo hub experienced heavy import cargo volumes, mainly made up of commodities like facemasks and medical supplies, in addition to traditional airfreight items and an increase in perishable traffic, especially meat.
Logistics operators and cargo carriers such as Etihad Cargo have increased operations, making use of available capacity during the airport’s reduced passenger flight schedule. Its freighter network has introduced capacity to countries including India, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, South Korea and other destinations. Additionally, Etihad Cargo’s freighter network from Abu Dhabi offers flights to Riyadh, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
Following the suspension of all commercial passenger flights to and from the UAE on 26 March 2020, Abu Dhabi International Airport has also facilitated a number of repatriation and humanitarian flights for Emiratis returning to the UAE as well as expatriates and foreign nationals departing for their countries of origin.
Etihad Airways has been operating special flights from Abu Dhabi to London, Zurich, Brussels, Tokyo, Dublin, Amsterdam, Melbourne, Seoul, Singapore, Manila and Jakarta. In addition to enabling passengers reach their desired destinations, the flights are utilising their belly-hold capacity to transport critical cargo.
Abu Dhabi Airports added that it is coordinating and collaborating with all relevant authorities including the Abu Dhabi Government, General Civil Aviation Authority, Department of Health, and Ministry of Health and Prevention to ensure every available precautionary measure is being taken to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of its employees, stakeholders and passengers.
The robust set of precautionary measures include thermal screening at passenger and staff entrances, free COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction, PCR, testing for passengers and employees, workforce cluster management and regular risk assessments in coordination with Etihad Airways medical teams, and the enforcement of social distancing guidelines and roster realignment to ensure ample staffing at all times.
Furthermore, other measures include the frequent sterilisation of workspaces and common areas throughout Abu Dhabi International Airport’s facilities.