Flight VS698 from London Heathrow to New York JFK
on 22 March created history for Virgin Atlantic as it departed
with just two pilots, one cabin crew member and a hold filled with
12.4 tonnes of pharmaceutical and medical supplies.
Although the emergence of COVID19 has led to a
decrease in passengers travelling, demand to transport cargo
remains strong and there has been a dramatic decrease in cargo
space available since many airlines have cancelled flights.
Special exemptions from the imposed travel
restrictions for pilots and cabin crew – whose health and
wellbeing remains top priority – mean that cargo operations can
continue, ensuring the airline can continue to support vital
supply chains across the globe.
A flight with no passengers is technically not an
unusual sight, with training, positioning and maintenance sectors
happening regularly. However, a
pure cargo charter flight like VS698 had never been operated
before by the British network carrier.
With further cargo-only
operated services scheduled, 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 from 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. From salmon sourced
from lochs in Scotland, and pharmaceutical supplies, to supercars
travelling to the US, customers who have flown with the airline
before will no doubt have been sitting above all sorts of goods
and products being shipped around the world.