Last year British Airways converted two of its Boeing 777-200ER aircraft into preighters, or makeshift freighters. While one may think that the need for preighters has died down, this seems to be anything by the case as British Airways was recently drafted in to fly 1.7 million masks to Munich.
A week ago Simple Flying reported that British Airways had seen demand for its makeshift freighters drop in January. However, while Hi Fly retired its A380 preighter due to lack of demand, British Airways has a trick up its sleeve. The aircraft has been operating for sister company IAG Cargo.
1.7 million masks to Germany
Flying to China is nothing new for G-YMMK. Indeed, in the past year it has flown to Shanghai 102 times, and Beijing 38 times according to RadarBox.com, making these its two most flown routes. However, when the aircraft flew to Shanghai on Monday, it wasn’t carrying items bound for London like so many of its previous flights.
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The aircraft was carrying 1.7 million masks bound for Senator International, a German company based in Hamburg. The masks were spread across over 17,000 boxes spread throughout the cabin, with a combined weight of 2.1 tonnes! Last month Germany made medical or FFP2/N95 masks mandatory on public transport, promoting a policy change at Lufthansa.
As usual, the flight headed back to London. The flight, BA 160, landed in Heathrow at 06:04 after a 12-hour 33-minute flight. Presumably, the stop in London was to change the aircraft’s crew.
Finally heading to Munich
After just over three hours on the ground in London, the aircraft departed bound for Munich, a flight that would last just one hour and 15 minutes. The flight, BA954, finally arrived in Munich at 11:43 CET. Munich is more accustomed to welcoming the airline’s A320 family. However, many European destinations have seen widebody aircraft due to their increased cargo capacity. For example, a Boeing 787 flew to Frankfurt yesterday.
Commenting on the cargo, Freddie Overton, Regional Commercial Manager for Europe & Africa at IAG Cargo said,
“It’s been nearly a year since we introduced our network of charter and cargo only flights – this continues to be an essential service in keeping vital goods like PPE moving across the world. Air cargo has always played a key role in times of crisis and we remain committed to continuing to support our customers.”
Preighters have played a key role in moving personal protective equipment (PPE) across the planet during the pandemic. Around the world, the need for masks in particular has grown substantially. At the same time, cargo capacity has dropped as many passenger planes that would usually contribute their belly space have been grounded. While most passenger planes can’t carry very heavy loads on their passenger decks, low-density high-volume cargos equate to no more weight than passengers.
What do you make of IAG Cargo’s German mask delivery? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!