Virgin Atlantic Operates First Aid Flight To Basra To Help With
Virgin Atlantic Friday flew its first relief
supply flight to Basra bringing approximately 60 tons of
much-needed medical supplies to Iraq. Virgin's 747 - 400 became the
first non-military aircraft to land in Iraq since the war. Working
along side the British Military, Virgin Atlantic has been assisting
in the re-opening of Basra airport, which will be crucial to the
long-term recovery of Iraq.
Sir Richard Branson, chairman of Virgin Atlantic, said in a
statement to ANN:
"I was contacted two weeks ago by Air Marshal Brian Burridge and
asked if we could send a team to Basra to help get the airport
reopened and agreed. Since then we have worked with the army and
the Royal Air Force to accomplish this as soon as possible and
Virgin Atlantic is extremely proud to be the first airline
operating a medical relief flight into Iraq. This crucial
flight will deliver around 60 tons of much needed aid and
"Good aviation links will be essential for the transportation of
aid relief, supplies, workers and the military. Ultimately
this will lead to the resumption of trade links, the rebuilding of
the Iraqi economy and government and, above all, in helping to
reunite Iraqi people with friends and families across the
Virgin has been working with the British government
and key aid agencies to determine what sort of aid is a priority
and how many flights they will require. Virgin has said that its
aircraft will be available to operate a number of flights and is
obviously delighted that this first flight will deliver life-saving
medicines and equipment. In addition Virgin is also flying in
essential medical equipment as diverse as incubators, heart
defibrillators and ECG machines. Virgin has had fantastic
cooperation from a wide range of pharmaceutical and medical supply
companies and lists are attached of those who have generously
donated supplies and the aid to be flown in on the flight.
"The pharmaceutical companies and a variety of medical aid
organisations, from the moment we asked them to help, have been
working around the clock and have supplied over $3 million of drugs
and much needed hospital equipment free of charge," said Branson.
"We are extremely grateful to them for their incredible
The airline will also be carrying a small team of medical
experts to assess the situation on the ground as Virgin now has a
list of over 700 volunteer doctors, nurses and surgeons who are all
prepared to go if needed.
Virgin Atlantic has previously flown from London to Iraq. In
1990 the airline operated a number of aid flights and the only
hostage release flight from Baghdad during the first Gulf conflict.
As soon as it is feasible Virgin Atlantic is ready to reintroduce
scheduled air services between Iraq and the UK, which have been
suspended since 1990.