Aer Lingus has delivered its final batch of Chinese personal protective equipment (PPE) to Ireland during the coronavirus emergency.
The 259 Dublin to Beijing return flights represented the largest cargo operation by air in the history of the State, the national carrier said.
It operated up to five flights a day over 14 weeks, flew 4.75 million kilometres and transported 4,000 tonnes comprising over 86 million pieces of PPE.
PPE is used to keep healthcare and other emergency workers safe from the spread of Covid-19 and the Health Service Executive (HSE) said the flights supplied “critical stocks of PPE in a time of unprecedented global shortage”.
The project was delivered by Aer Lingus on a cost basis for the HSE.
Sean Bresnan, national director of procurement at the HSE said: “Today is a hugely significant milestone in terms of our response to the pandemic as we see the last of 259 Aer Lingus flights return from Beijing to Ireland.
“We opened a daily air bridge between Beijing and Dublin that has been in operation since March 29.
“During that period, Aer Lingus has operated up to five flights per day and delivered to us in excess of 86 million pieces of critical PPE.”
He added: “Aer Lingus has been an integral and key part of a multi-agency effort to secure critical stocks of PPE in a time of unprecedented global shortage.”
Donal Moriarty, chief corporate affairs officer at Aer Lingus, said over the past 14 weeks there has been a huge team effort ensuring the critical supply operation ran smoothly.
“This was a unique project – something of this scale would normally take months to set up, and it was done in a matter of days,” he said.