Qatar Airways, one of the largest airfreight operators in the world by volume, on Sunday announced it is increasing cargo capacity for Scandinavian cities and launching an emergency air bridge between Vietnam and France using both freighters and repurposed passenger jets to haul freight.
Qatar has added five Airbus 350 passenger planes to haul only freight to Copenhagen. That is in addition to its thrice-weekly flights to the Danish capital increasing its total weekly cargo capacity for Denmark to more than 500 tons. The airline said the flights will support the country's exporters moving goods, such as insulin, perishables and mail, to destinations in Asia, Africa and Australia.
The airline also added two freighter flights to Oslo, Norway, to its existing six weekly freighter flights and three passenger flights for freight only. Qatar also said it will operate one of its Boeing 747-8 freighters to the Norwegian airport every Thursday in May.
Sweden has also attracted additional Qatar freighter flights, including one last week that carried 103 tons of automotive, pharmaceutical and other cargoes for customers around the world.
Inbound flights to the three Scandinavian airports are carrying COVID-19 medical supplies, foodstuff, flowers, apparel and machinery parts, Qatar said.
Qatar also established an "air bridge" from Vietnam to France to transport more than 2,000 tons of COVID-19-related medical gear on behalf of the French Ministry of Health. This action will require 11 Boeing 777 freighter flights from Hanoi in May and four weekly, freight-only 777 passenger planes from Ho Chi Minh City until June, the airline said. Bollore Logistics is managing flight and distribution coordination.
Qatar Airways is operating a similar air link between China and France.
Since March, Qatar said it has transported more than 5,000 tons of medical supplies to France using its Boeing 777 freighter charters and scheduled flights.
Despite government quarantines and travel restrictions resulting from the pandemic, Qatar said it has continued to operate about 175 cargo flights per day. In recent weeks it has beefed up its freighter frequencies around the world.
The airline said it continues to monitor the pandemic and believes that by the end of June it will resume scheduled flights to about 80 international destinations, including 23 in Europe, four in the Americas, 20 in the Middle East and Africa, and 33 in Asia-Pacific.
Qatar said its "gradual expansion" of flights will initially operate between its Doha hub and major hubs, such as London, Chicago, Dallas and Hong Kong.
"We have built a strong level of trust with passengers, governments, trade and airports as a reliable partner during the crisis and we intend to continue delivering on this mission as we gradually expand our network," said Qatar Airways Group Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker in a statement.