IAG Cargo ended 2020 with the departure of its 1000th charter flight since March that year.
The new charter flights were introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic and utilise aircraft from the Group that would, in normal times, not be available. This offering continues to be managed by a dedicated, specialist team and as we enter 2021, the bespoke service continues to play an essential role in keeping vital supplies moving around the world.
The 1000th flight from London Heathrow to Los Angeles Airport was on a B777-200 and included a large shipment of e-commerce goods, reflecting the acceleration in growth of online retail, which continues into 2021.
The vast majority (750) of IAG Cargo’s 1000 charter services in 2020 were used to transport thousands of tonnes of medical supplies including PPE, hospital equipment and COVID-19 testing kits. Other notable charters during the year included fresh, perishable items, like large scale shipments of cherries from Chile to London, and industrial supplies, such as mining equipment from Finland to the USA.
John Cheetham, Chief Commercial Officer at IAG Cargo commented: “I’m extremely proud of the role IAG Cargo has played in transporting vital supplies to help the fight against COVID-19 and to keep the world’s cargo moving. We were committed to quickly providing solutions for our customers during these unprecedented circumstances. Charters have proved to be a popular solution, and we have seen increasing demand from customers and shippers for this tailored service.
“Early in 2020, to provide that much needed extra capacity to deliver the logistics programmes of our customers we converted a number of aircraft into ‘preighters,’ and more recently we have modified two further Iberia aircraft. These recent conversions are another example of our bespoke solutions for customers across the world.”
IAG Cargo has a high charter capacity, benefitting from an extensive fleet across its sister airline portfolio – British Airways, Iberia, Vueling, Level and Aer Lingus. To date, the most popular aircraft for chartered flights has been the B777-300, followed by the A330-300, and the converted B777-200 passenger freighter.
The most popular non-PPE route for IAG Cargo’s charter flights in 2020 was between Hong Kong and São Paulo–Guarulhos; an important route for electronics and e-commerce. IAG Cargo’s charter offering is available upon request to hundreds of destinations worldwide, with all flights able to provide Constant Climate services.