Dhaka: British Airways has announced that it is increasing the number of cargo flights to China. The move comes as the UK continues to grapple with a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers during the coronavirus pandemic.
The airline has also beefed up its cargo capacity between China and London. It has achieved this with a double-pronged approach. Initially, the airline was only operating with cargo in the hold of its aircraft. However, it is now joining many other airlines in loading cargo into the passenger cabin.
Unlike some other airlines, including Lufthansa and Air Canada, British Airways has so far refrained from removing seats from the cabins of its Boeing 777s operating the freight flights. Nevertheless, the British flag carrier is also upping the number of cargo flights it operates to collect the PPE.
Last week, the British flag carrier operated 13 freight flights from China, carrying aid for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). However, it is going to up this by just over 50 per cent. The airline will operate 21 flights each week – averaging three per day.
The airline will operate seven weekly flights to Beijing, and 14 weekly flights to Shanghai. Together the new schedule will allow British Airways to transport as much as 770 tonnes of medical supplies per week.
On BA's increased cargo capacity from China, Dominic Raab, Foreign Secretary of the UK, said, “These flights will help us deliver essential equipment to the NHS and for others who are working on the front line. Coronavirus is a global challenge and we are focused on working with our international partners to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.”