The Queen's Charter flight from Beijing has arrived into Belfast International Airport on Saturday 19 September. A second flight has also been arranged to meet demand from students and arrived in Belfast on Saturday 3 October. Both two charter flights landed safely with approx. 800 new and returning students ready for the start of the academic year.
With international travel badly impacted by the pandemic, and with many people wary of transiting through major airports, the University was one of the first in the UK to charter a dedicated, direct flight from China, a clear demonstration of its commitment to its Chinese students. The University subsidised the cost of the flight so that students did not have to pay more than the cost of a normal commercial flight.
The aim of the flight was to provide reassurance to both students and their families, while helping reduce anxiety levels for those making the trip to Belfast. All students were required to show a negative Covid-19 certificate, taken no more than 5 days before flight departure, in order to board the flight.
Upon arrival, students were transported directly via private transport to Queen's Accommodation and placed in safe and secure quarantine accommodation.
The students were received and welcomed by Professor Ian Greer, President and Vice-Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast and Consul-General of the People's Republic of China in Belfast, Madame Zhang Meifang.
Welcoming the students, Professor Ian Greer said: “I am delighted our students have made the journey safely from China to Belfast. I am confident the direct Queen's Charter flight has gone some way to alleviate any fear and stress our students and their families may have felt. I am proud Queen’s was able to support our students in this way as the health and safety of our students and staff is paramount for the University.
“We have been working hard to plan for the year ahead to ensure students have a safe, authentic and enjoyable student experience.”
Madame Zhang added, “Queens University Belfast’s (QUB) first chartered flight from Beijing arrived in Belfast as scheduled, which ensured the health and safety of the Chinese students, new and old, seeking advanced studies in NI. This first direct Queen’s Charter flight linking China and NI will both help accumulate valuable experiences for both sides and enhance people-to-people exchanges. We have attached great importance to the long-term cooperation with Queen’s. We will continue to work hard to deepen China-NI friendly and mutually beneficial cooperation in the economic and trade, educational and cultural fields.”
The University has put in place a range of additional hygiene and safety measures on campus to minimise the risks presented by the virus, to help staff and students safely engage with others, move around, and study on campus.