March 17, 2020 / 9:44 AM / 4 months ago

Abu Dhabi's Etihad adds cargo flights as coronavirus batters passenger demand

FILE PHOTO: Etihad Airways Airbus A340-600 plane is seen parked at Abu Dhabi International Airport in United Arab Emirates, December 16, 2017. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

DUBAI (Reuters) - Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways said on Tuesday it was expanding its cargo network to markets where passenger operations have decreased due to the coronavirus epidemic.

About half of all air cargo carried worldwide normally flies in passenger jets but the grounding of those planes due to the coronavirus outbreak has increased demand for freighters.

“With widespread commercial flight restrictions in numerous international markets, the air cargo environment is evolving daily ... Our optimized summer freighter schedule is designed to significantly boost capacity”, Etihad Managing Director, Cargo, Abdulla Mohamed Shadid said in a statement.

Cargo services are being added to Hong Kong, Hanoi, Singapore, Amsterdam, Milan, Paris, Johannesburg and Nairobi.

The state-owned airline said the additional services also included summer increases to traditional cargo destinations.

Rival Emirates said on its website it was temporarily suspending more routes, including to Algiers from March 18 until the end of the month and Mexico City from March 20 to April 30.

Smaller United Arab Emirates carrier flydubai said its flights to India were cancelled until the end of the month.

Reporting by Alexander Cornwell; Editing by Louise Heavens and Alex Richardson

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