Photo: Yu Cai

MIAMI – Virgin Atlantic (VS) ran its first-ever cargo-only charter from London Heathrow (LHR) to New York (JFK) on March 22 to transport medical and pharmaceutical goods.

For this historic operation, the VS698 carried 12,490Kg of supplies. In terms of normal cargo operations, the British company transported over 200,000 tons of different types of goods on its global network.

Virgin’s cargo flight significance

Due to the COVID-19 spread and following travel restrictions, commercial flight suspensions have been made all around, as passenger demand keeps going down. In contrast, VS’s cargo service increased its demand as an essential transportation supplier.

Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said that making the flight happen in such short notice and in such challenging times reaffirmed that the airline had one of the best teams in the sky supporting supply chains across the globe.

In the foreground, Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo.

Following government and medical guidelines, cargo operations flown by pilots and cabin crew with no passengers is a special exemption that not only means moving freight for customers but also signifies an alternative operational option for airlines.

In this case, the historic flight for the British carrier means additional profit as it has had to cut flights and ground fleet due to the current crisis. Previously, VS CEO agreed to a pay-cut for four months and VS founder committed to a supplementary investment for the group to gain liquidity.

With further cargo only operated services scheduled for this week, the British carrier expects to continue flying in the US and beyond eastern destinations.