American Airlines is utilizing its currently grounded passenger aircraft to move cargo between the United States and Europe, ensuring the world’s goods continue to get where they need to go.
The first cargo-only flight departs from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) tomorrow, March 20, landing at Frankfurt Airport (FRA) March 21. The Boeing 777-300 will operate two round trips between DFW and FRA over the course of four days, carrying only cargo and necessary flight personnel. This is the first scheduled cargo-only flight since 1984 when American retired the last of its Boeing 747 freighters.
The 777-300 has 14 cargo positions for large pallets and can carry more than 100,000 pounds. The four scheduled flights this weekend are expected to be booked to capacity and transport medical supplies, mail for active U.S. military, telecommunications equipment and electronics that will support people working from home, and e-commerce packages. The flights provide much-needed cargo capacity for many of the airline’s regular cargo customers, allowing them to continue operating in this challenging environment.
Air cargo has always played a key role in times of crisis, delivering lifesaving medical supplies and materials to keep the world’s infrastructure intact. In the face of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, this role has never been more important as the world relies more on e-commerce to support basic needs during quarantines and social distancing. The airlines’ role is deemed a critical infrastructure industry by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“We have a critical role to play in keeping essential goods moving during this unprecedented time, and we are proud to do our part and find ways to continue to serve our customers and our communities,” said Rick Elieson, President of Cargo and Vice President of International Operations.
“Challenging times call for creative solutions, and a team of people across the airline has been working nonstop to arrange cargo-only flight options for our customers.”
Cargo-only flights, while not carrying customers, continue to require a group effort from American’s team members across every function. From the first call to a customer to the last cargo offloaded from the plane, team members and vendor partners contribute to these efforts.
“It’s an honor to be part of these cargo-only flights,” said Ken Jarrell, Fleet Service Clerk, Cargo Services – DFW.
“They represent much needed aid for the world and hope for our team. Our team members across the airline are ready and willing to do what it takes to make sure people have the things they need during these unprecedented times.”
Domestically, American continues to carry cargo on all of its planes. The smaller narrowbody aircraft are especially vital in supporting the world’s economy, delivering medicine and e-commerce goods. This week the airline also transported its first shipment of COVID-19 test kits from Raleigh-Durham International Airport to Chicago O’Hare Airport.