Virgin Atlantic Cargo hopes for faster lead times with Norwegian seafood flights

By Damian Brett

Virgin Atlantic Cargo - Evenes

Virgin Atlantic Cargo is extending its cargo-only network to Harstad/Narvik Airport in Norway, hoping to offer faster lead times to the US than operations using the usual Oslo route.

The first official flight of the twice-weekly flight will depart on Wednesday. The service will utilise B787-9 aircraft offering over 100 tonnes of capacity each week, primarily serving the Norwegian seafood and fish industry.

The airline said that once the produce arrives in the UK, the seafood can travel onwards to various US destinations and other gateways on Virgin’s network.

The airport is located much further north than Oslo – around an 18-20 hour drive – and therefore seafood produced in the Evenes region will avoid a lengthy truck journey south.

“For exports to the US, the service will allow cargo to reach its destination up to 72 hours faster than current solutions through Oslo,” the airline said.

“The route expects to carry vast quantities of fresh salmon, as well as cod and crabs.”

Virgin said that flying a widebody aircraft into Harstad/Narvik airport at Evenes posed challenges for the Virgin Atlantic team.

Working closely with Kuehne+Nagel counterparts, the teams took part in online training and also operated a test flight on January 27 as part of the launch preparations.

Key challenges for Virgin Atlantic’s team include limited hours of daylight per day, cold and windy weather with winter temperatures reaching highs of just minus 2 degrees Celsius as well as de-icing requirements.

“All pilots took part in special training for the unique approaches and departures they will experience alongside detailed briefings and airfield assessments that they will conduct at the airport,” the airline said.

Dominic Kennedy, managing director of Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said: “Virgin Atlantic Cargo continues to expand at pace, and this exciting new launch is testament to the innovative spirit of our business. Norway is our 11th new cargo destination in twelve months, and we’re now able to offer customers a fast, efficient cargo service via London Heathrow onto the rest of our network.

“We look forward to working alongside Avinor, Perishable Centre North, Widerøe Ground Handling and especially Kuehne+Nagel as we provide this seamless service for customers.”

Dennis Verkooy, global head perishables and carrier management air logistics at Kuehne+Nagel, said: “What sounded impossible has quickly developed into an innovative solution. Together with our partner, Virgin Atlantic Cargo, we are now able to provide our customers in Northern Norway a service that is not only reliable and secure, but also gives them the fastest possible access to their markets.

“The new route will ensure that temperature-sensitive products will arrive on time and in perfect condition with maximum freshness to consumers.”

Last year, Qatar Cargo also launched a service to the northern Norway airport.

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