United to operate 40 cargo-only PAX flights per week

By Damian Brett

United Airlines has joined a host of other carriers offering its passenger aircraft up for cargo charter flights.

The airline said that it is flying a portion of our Boeing 777 and 787 fleet as dedicated cargo charter aircraft to transfer freight to and from US hubs, as well as key international business locations.

The first of these freight-only flights departed on March 19 from Chicago O’Hare International Airport (ORD) to Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) with the cargo hold completely full — carrying more than 29,000 lbs of goods.

“Getting critical goods into the hands of the businesses and people who need them most is extremely important right now,” United said in a statement.

“To support customers, employees and the global economy, we will initially operate a schedule of 40 cargo charters each week targeting international destinations and will continue to seek additional opportunities.

“With coronavirus (COVID-19) creating an increased need to keep the global supply chain moving, we are utilizing our network capabilities and personnel to get vital shipments, such as medical supplies, to areas that need them most.”

With belly capacity stripped out of the market, capacity is coming under pressure. Meanwhile, passenger airlines are seeking ways to try and deploy some of their aircraft to bring in revenues as passenger demand collapses.

“Connecting products to people around the world is the United Cargo mission,” said United Cargo president Jan Krems. “That role has never been more crucial than during the current crisis. Our team is working around the clock to provide innovative solutions for our customers and support the global community.”

On average, United ships more than 1bn pounds of cargo every year on behalf of domestic and international customers.

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