East Midlands Airport – still working around the clock  

(Photo: East Midlands Airport)

East Midlands (IATA: EMA) has announced that, despite the numerous coronavirus restrictions, it has been able to continue operating over half of its scheduled flights – currently more than any other major European Airport.

An airport statement said that new figures show that EMA’s air cargo operation is keeping goods moving into Britain during the Coronavirus pandemic, as EMA’s flights are carrying vital items of freight, such as face masks and hospital equipment, rather than people.

In the week immediately following the UK Government’s announcement about stricter social distancing measures (March 16), the number of cargo aircraft movements increased by 10% at EMA. Across the two weeks to March 29, cargo aircraft movements increased by an average of 7.4% a day.

EMA said this growth has been driven by:

  • a sudden need for more urgent medical and PPE equipment, including face masks
  • more ad-hoc flights as EMA takes on additional capacity from other airports that are now closed at night, together with a reduction in long-haul passenger flights from other UK airports which would normally carry urgent cargo alongside passenger luggage
  • strict social distancing measures leading to more people shopping online and ordering goods for home delivery, many of which come from overseas stockists
  • increased operations by well-established carriers that have the infrastructure and broader international network supply chains in place at EMA

The latest European air traffic statistics, published by Eurocontrol, show that EMA has suffered the smallest drop in flight numbers of any major airport in Europe over the last week, followed by Bergen (BGO), Stavanger (SVG) and Cologne (CGN).

While every other major UK airport saw aircraft movements fall by at least 60% compared with the same week last year, EMA, retained 60% of its scheduled flights.

Employees at the centrally located airport, alongside those of the logistics giants DHL, UPS, FedEx and Royal Mail, have been designated as key workers by Government and are working around the clock to handle more than 1,000 tonnes of cargo per day.

Karen Smart, East Midlands Airport’s managing director, said: “East Midlands Airport is providing around the clock support to the fight back against COVID-19. It is at times like these when EMA really demonstrates its national value and shows how important airfreight is to keeping Britain moving. The airport is a vital lifeline for businesses that need to get products to market quickly, the NHS frontline, and those R&D companies that are working flat out to develop new medicines which can help combat crippling viruses such as Covid-19.

“Our location means that we’re perfectly placed to serve a huge population, some of whom are in urgent need of rapid deliveries. We are still open for business 24 hours a day and so the role we play in the coming weeks and months will only step up a gear as EMA and our onsite logistics partners act as the gateway to the UK for essential goods.”