Virgin Atlantic has operated its first cargo-only charter amid the operational challenges brought by Covid-19 upon the global aviation industry.
Flight VS698 from London Heathrow for New York JFK created history for the airline as the B787-9 passenger aircraft departed with two pilots, one cabin crew member and a hold filled with 12.5 tonnes of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
With many airlines cancelling flights, there has been a dramatic decrease in cargo space available but global trade continues, said an airline spokesperson, adding: “The Virgin Atlantic cargo team continues to operate, helping both regular and new customers keep their freight moving around the world.”
The spokesperson continued: “A flight with no passengers is technically not an unusual sight, with training, positioning and maintenance sectors happening regularly amongst Virgin Atlantic’s fleet. However, a pure cargo charter flight like VS698 had never been operated before by the British network carrier.
“With further carg0-only operated services scheduled in for this week, Virgin Atlantic is expected to continue its cargo offering to destinations from the US to the Far East.”
Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo said: “Watching Virgin Atlantic’s inaugural cargo-only charter take off yesterday at London Heathrow added to a feeling of immense pride towards the herculean effort of our Cargo team.
“Making the flight happen, in such short notice and in such challenging times, reaffirms the fact that we have one of the best teams in the sky supporting supply chains across the globe.”
Every year, Virgin Atlantic transports over 200,000 tonnes of cargo on its global network.
Over the last few days several other airlines have taken similar steps: