A cargo plane carrying several tons of medical supplies from China, including vital respirators and millions of facemasks, landed at Pardubice airport on Tuesday night (24-25 March 2020) to help combat the coronavirus.
The Antonov An-124 Ruslan plane, one of the largest aircraft ever built, landed overnight in the city of Pardubice. The flight was made possible by the NATO-managed Strategic Airlift International Solution, which provides NATO countries participating in the programme with access to heavy transport aircraft. The Czech Government had tasked the mission.
The plane flew from the city of Shenzhen in China with over 100 tons of equipment, including millions of facemasks, goggles and protective suits. This was the second such flight to the Czech Republic. Further flights to the Czech Republic and Slovakia are planned in the coming days, bringing much needed medical supplies. Special procedures were in place to ensure the safety of the aircrew, with no direct contact with ground crews allowed.
The Strategic Airlift International Solution, or SALIS, provides NATO countries with a strategic air transport capability. Nine NATO Allies (Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia) currently participate in the programme, managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. The aircraft is operated by Antonov Logistics SALIS from Leipzig/Halle airport.