While a number of carriers are having a hard time in their operations during the novel coronavirus outbreak, many airlines are helping transport medical staff and relief supplies on a complimentary basis to Hubei province, the epicenter of the contagion.
Hainan Airlines, China's largest private airline and the fourth-largest in the nation, and Tianjin Airlines, both under HNA Group, have transported medical staff and surgical products from Hainan province and Tianjin municipality to Wuhan, Hubei province, in three chartered flights.
So far, domestic airports that are mainly operated and managed by the HNA Group have guaranteed the transportation of medical supplies in more than 220 flights.
They have transported more than 225 metric tons of medical goods such as masks, protective clothing and glasses to Wuhan, Chongqing, Changsha of Hunan province, and Haikou of Hainan province.
The airlines under the HNA Group have invested more than 5 million yuan ($716,000) in total in the operational costs of transporting medical relief and chartered flights, the company said.
"There are no bystanders in front of the epidemic. We should actively undertake the mission of transporting medical staff and medical relief goods," said Chen Feng, HNA Group chairman.
Some overseas branches of Hainan Airlines, including those in Los Angeles, Toronto, Madrid, London and Paris, have been cooperating with local governments, organizations and charities in transporting medical supplies to China.
Separately, Qatar Airways became the first foreign airline to volunteer free air cargo transportation for medical supplies donated by Chinese embassies and consulates worldwide to fight the coronavirus emergency.
Medical supplies donated by Chinese communities overseas will be flown by Qatar Airways cargo freighters through its global destinations to China cargo gateways in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hong Kong and Macao, it said.
So far, Chinese communities in Qatar have donated more than 700 kilograms of medical aid alone. Qatar's national carrier has also independently donated millions of medical-grade masks and sanitization bottles to areas in China that most urgently need them.
"We are taking immediate action to help alleviate the heartbreaking and devastating situation in China. We hope to make a positive contribution and leverage our strengths as one of the world's major air cargo carriers," said Akbar Al Baker, CEO of Qatar Airways.
Qatar Airways has suspended passenger flights to the Chinese mainland starting Feb 3 due to significant operational challenges caused by the epidemic. However, cargo freight service to Guangzhou and Shanghai remains unchanged, the company said.