Virgin Atlantic operates its first-ever cargo-only flight

Mar 26, 2020

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While commercial aviation has, for the most part, come to a grinding halt, airlines have taken to grounding large portions of their fleets. However, for Virgin Atlantic, the large passenger operation suspension has given it a first by the way of its first-ever cargo-only charter.

On 22 March, VS698 flew from London Heathrow to New York (JFK) not filled with passengers, but instead with cargo goods. According to Virgin Atlantic, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner was carrying 12,490 kilograms worth of medical and pharmaceutical goods.

Since the flight on Sunday, the aircraft that operated the flight, G-VSPY, flew back to London on 25 March, arriving at 8:24 a.m. on 26 March.

The airline said that while passengers are restricted to where they can travel because of coronavirus — for example, the U.S. has restricted foreign nationals coming from much of Europe from entering its borders — cargo crews are exempt. While passenger operations largely have to be reduced, cargo flights can keep operating.

While VS698 was Virgin’s first foray into cargo, the airline said that it expects to operate additional cargo-only flights this week from the U.S. to the far east.

Related: Where is Virgin Atlantic parking its planes during the coronavirus outbreak?

Though it plans to continue operating cargo-only flights, its commercial operation has been — and will continue to be — severely cut. According to the airline’s CEO Shai Weiss, at points in April, the airline will ground 85% of its fleet, forcing it to find new spaces to park its aircraft.

Featured photo by Patrick Fallon/The Points Guy.

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