For the first time in its history, the Cargo division of South African Airways, SAA Cargo, joins a number of other carriers as it operates a passenger aircraft for a cargo only uplift.
On 6 April and in response to the increased demand for cargo flights to distribute critical and essential goods during the global Covid-19 crisis, SAA Cargo operated an A340-600 as a cargo only flight, transporting essential goods between Johannesburg (JNB) and Frankfurt (FRA).
The outbound cargo included perishables such as fish, fresh fruits and vegetables, laboratory supplies as well as automotive and aircraft parts for repairs. On the inbound leg from Europe the aircraft landed in Johannesburg with cargo including testing kits for COVID-19, immunological pharmaceuticals, insulin, surgical personal protective equipment (PPE), and processing equipment for food such as baby milk powder.
“SAA has demonstrated agility and we are working with our partners to provide them and our country with solutions that are relevant in these difficult times,” says SAA Cargo’s acting general manager, Justice Luthuli. “The decision to deploy an A346, is based on both its capacity and range and so bolsters our freighter services during this time when there is high demand for cargo shipments,” he adds.
The next pure cargo flight is scheduled to depart from Johannesburg to Guangzhou on 10 April and will operate on the same aircraft type for collection and delivery of medical supplies.
“SAA Cargo has stepped up as a trade facilitator and a solution provider to sustain supply chains to and from various countries,” the carrier says. The solution is provided on a charter basis at the request of its customers, who are producers and suppliers of essential cargo.
All flights are operated under strict operating procedures and in full compliance to COVID-19 civil aviation and health regulatory measures by both its staff and its customers, it highlights.
“As a national carrier, we are pleased that we can contribute in response to our country’s needs to bring in much needed medical supplies and other essential goods to assist in the fight against COVID-19. We extend our gratitude to all our employees for their commitment and service during this time,” Luthuli adds.