Coronavirus: UAE supermarket arranges flights from India to bolster food supplies
Lulu Group is ensuring stocks remain high thanks to airline partnership
A leading UAE supermarket chain has flown in dozens of tonnes of vital food supplies from India to ensure its outlets remain fully stocked while the country takes steps to tackle the spread of coronavirus.
Lulu Group, which operates 12 hypermarkets in the Emirates, arranged for three charter flights on Tuesday after teaming up with Indian airline, SpiceJet.
While all passenger flights in and out of the UAE were suspended as of midnight on Tuesday, cargo flights are still permitted.
The first flight carrying 18 tonnes of fruits and vegetables took off from Kochi in India and touched down in Abu Dhabi International Airport on Tuesday at 1.45am.
Another two cargo planes from Delhi and Kochi arrived with more than 35 tonnes of fruits, vegetables and processed food on the same day.
V Nandakumar, spokesman at Lulu Group, said the decision was made to transport food from India to the quality of its produce and the relatively swift journey times involved.
“We are also working closely with other airlines of the GCC countries to deliver cargo from India to those countries," Mr Nandakumar said.
"We started with India, as the quantity of fresh produce from India is always high, and it’s something we can quickly turn around compared to other countries.
“But we are working very closely with our sourcing offices from across the world, from New Jersey in the US to our sourcing offices in Birmingham in UK. We are working with different airlines who are currently operating cargo so that we can bring cargo to the UAE.”
Despite the food arriving on special cargo flights, Mr Nandakumar said prices would remain the same.
“We will continue to hire flights as long as it’s required. We would like to reassure everyone that we have many months of food stocks and there’s no need to worry about any shortage,” he said.
On Monday, the UAE government urged all citizens and residents to stay in their homes unless ‘absolutely necessary.’
Malls were ordered to close but supermarkets and pharmacies across the country will remain open.
Lulu Group and other major supermarkets have cautioned against panic buying, insisting stocks are in good supply.
“We saw a lot of rush at our branches on Monday after the government’s announcement," said Mr Nandakumar .
"There were many inquiries from residents about the store timings and the availability of items. Both Lulu hypermarkets and the warehouses across the UAE are well stocked and there is absolutely no need for any anxiety or panic buying."
Updated: March 25, 2020 06:59 PM