American Airlines is utilising its currently grounded passenger aircraft to move cargo between the US and Europe, helping ensure world trade keeps moving during this critical Coronavirus pandemic.
The first cargo-only flight departs from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) on 20 March, landing at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) 21 March. The B777-300 will operate two round trips between DFW and FRA over the course of four days, carrying only cargo and necessary flight personnel. This is the first scheduled cargo-only flight since 1984 when American retired the last of its B747 freighters.
The B777-300 has 14 cargo positions for large pallets and can carry more than 45 tonnes. The four scheduled flights this weekend are expected to be booked to capacity and transport medical supplies, mail for active US military, telecommunications equipment and electronics that will support people working from home, and e-commerce packages. The flights provide much-needed cargo capacity for many of the airline’s regular cargo customers, allowing them to continue operating in this challenging environment.
Air cargo has always played a key role in times of crisis, delivering lifesaving medical supplies and materials to keep the world’s infrastructure intact. In the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, this role has never been more important as the world relies more on e-commerce to support basic needs during quarantines and social distancing. The airlines’ role is deemed a critical infrastructure industry by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We have a critical role to play in keeping essential goods moving during this unprecedented time, and we are proud to do our part and find ways to continue to serve our customers and our communities,” says Rick Elieson, president of Cargo and vice president of International Operations. “Challenging times call for creative solutions, and a team of people across the airline has been working nonstop to arrange cargo-only flight options for our customers.”
Cargo-only flights, while not carrying customers, continue to require a group effort from American’s team members across every function. From the first call to a customer to the last cargo offloaded from the plane, team members and vendor partners contribute to these efforts.
“It’s an honour to be part of these cargo-only flights,” says Ken Jarrell, fleet service clerk, Cargo Services – DFW. “They represent much needed aid for the world and hope for our team. Our team members across the airline are ready and willing to do what it takes to make sure people have the things they need during these unprecedented times.”
Domestically, American continues to carry cargo on all of its planes. The smaller narrowbody aircraft are especially vital in supporting the world’s economy, delivering medicine and e-commerce goods. This week the airline also transported its first shipment of COVID-19 test kits from Raleigh-Durham International Airport (RDU) to Chicago O’Hare Airport (ORD). American says it continues to work to provide solutions for its customers and world governments to protect the public health and keep the global economy moving during this time of need.