Cargo on the 777
Cargo on the 777El Al spokesperson

El Al's cargo department has signed a global logistical deal with Kuehne + Nagel, under which the airline will operate 150 cargo flights from China to Italy, carrying medical equipment to help battle coronavirus.

In the coming days, El Al will begin operating two flights daily from China, via Israel to Italy. Between April and October, the company is expected to operate approximately 150 cargo flights.

On their return journey, the cargo flights will fly through England, France, Germany, Holland, and Switzerland on their way back to Israel from Italy.

To allow for the cargo flights, El Al transformed two 777 passenger planes into cargo planes, by removing the seats. In addition, the airline is using its fleet of Dreamliner planes, placing the cargo both in the cabin and in the cargo ago.

Earlier this week, El Al operated its first cargo flight using the transformed 777, flying from Shanghai to Tel Aviv and bringing in protective gear and medical equipment.

Ronen Shapira, El Al's director of cargo, said: "This project allows El Al to open regular cargo flights, importing from Europe on a daily basis - from London, Paris, Milan, Frankfurt, Amsterdam, and Zurich. Adding these flights adds significantly to the capacity to import cargo from Europe, something which will allow the Israeli industry and importers to go back to their regular, reopening the Israeli economy."

Yossi Kuehne, founder of Kuehne + Nagel, said: "I am happy that we have succeeded in creating a fruitful cooperation agreement between the global logistics company and Israel's national airline, El Al. I am sure that the cooperation between us will play a crucial role in the ability of businesses in the Israeli economy to return to their regular activities and in the ability of Israeli industry to return to [routine] and succeed."