DUBAI: Dubai's long-haul carrier Emirates will begin shipping aid for free into India to help fight a crushing outbreak of the coronavirus, the airline said Sunday.
The offer by Emirates, which has some 95 flights weekly to nine cities, comes as air freight costs have skyrocketed.
That's as air cargo demand has risen to its highest recorded level ever amid the pandemic, which has seen carriers including Emirates fly cargo in otherwise-empty passenger seats.
Emirates made the announcement at Dubai's International Humanitarian City, already home to a World Health Organization warehouse that's been crucial to the distribution of medical gear worldwide.
Since the founding of the long-haul carrier in 1985, Emirates has flown to India.
The airline over time grew its network into flying into nine destinations across the country.
As India's economic fortunes have grown, so too have Emirates as a key link in East-West flights from its hub at Dubai International Airport, long the world's busiest for international travel.
Passenger numbers from India for Emirates, just under 3 million in 2008, grew to 5.5 million a decade later.
Millions of Indians live in the United Arab Emirates and comprise a key part of its labor force.
Then came the pandemic and the fierce outbreak now burning through India.
Infections have surged there since February, fueled by variants and the government's permission for massive crowds to attend religious festivals and political rallies.
The UAE banned in-bound passenger flights from India in late April, though cargo flights continued and passenger planes return with their seats now empty.