Icelandair has signed a contract to operate at least 45 cargo flights between Shanghai, China and Munich, Germany, transporting medical and nursing supplies, RÚV reports. The airline will also fly from Shanghai to Chicago in the US with stopovers in Iceland. The flights will operate daily, starting on Saturday.
Three of Icelandair’s Boeing 767s will be temporarily converted for the cargo operation. Each will be crewed by 12 people, while another 100 Icelandair employees will be involved in different aspects of the project.
While the contract with cargo company DB Schenker calls for a minimum of 45 flights, it also stipulates that daily flights from Shanghai will continue for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, so it’s probable that more will be added in the near future.
Icelandair also signed another lease agreement with another party for a fourth Boeing 767, which will also be used for cargo shipments of medical and nursing supplies between China and Europe.
“This is important revenue for the company, from aircraft that would have otherwise been grounded,” remarked Icelandair CEO Bogi Nils Bogason. “…This also creates work for our people – the preparations, organisation, and implementation are all taking place here in Iceland, in addition to the flights themselves, and all with our excellent employees.”
The new cargo contracts and any work they can create are certainly welcome; just one day ago, Bogi Nils told reporters that extensive layoffs on par with those that the company was forced to make after the 2008 banking collapse were “unavoidable” in the coming week.