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Dublin: 17 °C Friday 3 July, 2020

Final Aer Lingus PPE delivery arrives in Dublin after 259 flights

Over 85 million pieces of PPE were delivered in the last three months.


THE VERY LAST scheduled Aer Lingus flight to bring personal protective equipment (PPE) into the State to help battle the Covid crisis landed in Dublin yesterday evening.

In total there were 259 Dublin – Beijing return flights, which represented the largest cargo operation by air in the history of the State.

Aer Lingus operated up to five flights a day over 14 weeks and in total flew 4.75 million kilometres and transported 35,000 cubic metres or 4,000 tonnes comprising over 86 million pieces of PPE. 

There had been serious concerns that the HSE could not supply all frontline staff with the recommended equipment. However, the delivery of this PPE from China helped ease the pressure on staff. 

However, it was also fraught with controversy. At the start of April, the HSE said one-fifth of the first batch of personal protective equipment (PPE) – costing roughly €4 million – delivered from China for use by the HSE didn’t meet the specified requirements. 

About €1 billion is expected to be spent on PPE this year, according to HSE boss Paul Reid. Last month, he said nine million masks are needed in Ireland every week. To put this many masks in context, he said it’s the equivalent of the height of 11 Liberty Hall (about 59m/195ft) buildings.

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Speaking about the importance of the PPE flights, Sean Bresnan, National Director of Procurement for the HSE described how Ireland “opened a daily airbridge between Beijing and Dublin that has been in operation since 29 March. During that period Aer Lingus have operated up to 5 flights per day and delivered to us in excess of 86 million pieces of critical PPE”.

Donal Moriarty Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Aer Lingus added: “Over the past 14 weeks there has been a huge team effort across Aer Lingus 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.”

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