United’s cargo-only pax flights begin, eyeing 40 per week

United B787
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United Cargo has begun operating a portion of its grounded B777 and B787 fleet as dedicated cargo charter aircraft to transfer freight to and from US hubs and key international business locations.

Like virtually every carrier around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced the US airline to reduce its schedule – in United’s case by about 90 per cent by April – and ground aircraft, the belly holds of which sustained the carrier’s over 450,000 tonnes of cargo uplift each year.

The first of these freight-only flights departed on 19 March from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) with the cargo hold completely full, with more than 13,150 kgs of goods.

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Getting critical goods into the hands of the businesses and people who need them most has become a key priority in this coronavirus pandemic. To support customers, employees and the global economy, United Cargo will initially operate a schedule of 40 cargo charters each week, targeting international destinations and will continue to seek additional opportunities, it says.

With coronavirus (COVID-19) creating an increased need to keep the global supply chain moving, United says it is utilising its network capabilities and personnel to get vital shipments, such as medical supplies, to areas that need them most.

“Connecting products to people around the world is the United Cargo mission,” says United Cargo president Jan Krems. “That role has never been more crucial than during the current crisis. Our team is working around the clock to provide innovative solutions for our customers and support the global community.”

The carrier continues to operate six daily passenger operations to and from Asia, Australia, Latin America, the Middle East and Europe – in an effort to get customers, many of whom are stranded in various places around the world, where they need to be.

“This remains a fluid situation, but United continues to play a role in connecting people and uniting the world, especially in these challenging times,” the carrier says.

For North America, flights to Mexico are being reduced with a small number to be maintained after 24 March, while all flights to Canada will be suspended from 1 April.

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