Coronavirus response: Largest plane in the world brings face masks to Germany

  • 27 Apr. 2020 -
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  • Last updated: 27 Apr. 2020 11:51

The largest plane in the world arrived in Germany on Monday (27 April 2020) from China bringing urgent medical supplies as part of efforts to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

The Antonov-225 cargo plane which carried 10,000,000 protective face masks arrived at Leipzig/Halle airport on Monday morning and was welcomed by German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer.  The masks were procured by the German government.

Today’s flight was made possible by the NATO-supported Strategic Airlift International Solution – or SALIS - which provides countries participating in the programme with access to Antonov heavy transport aircraft.  A further two flights with an additional 14,900,000 protective face masks are arriving in Germany via SALIS-contracted Antonov aircraft from China.

The sole Antonov AN-225 aircraft was built in the 1980s to transport space shuttles and can carry up to 250 tons of cargo. The plane's smaller version, the AN124 has already moved vital supplies needed during the pandemic to several NATO countries, including the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania and Slovenia.

Nine NATO Allies – Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hungary, Norway, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia – participate in the SALIS programme which is managed by the NATO Support and Procurement Agency. The aircraft is operated by Antonov Logistics SALIS from Leipzig/Halle airport.