Aerolineas Argentinas Flies Its First Flight To China With An A330

On April 15th, Aerolineas Argentinas flew an Airbus A330 to China to bring back crucial supplies to Buenos Aires via Auckland, New Zealand. This marks the carrier’s first flight to China.

An A330-200 flew the first China flight for the Argentinian carrier. Photo: Airbus

Airbus A330 flights to Shanghai

Argentina required essential medical supplies and, to get them, a plane needed to fly those supplies in from China. To do so, the flag carrier was marshaled to fly these missions. Using an Airbus A330, Aerolineas Argentinas was able to bring back 13 tons of medical supplies on one flight. That flight arrived in Buenos Aires at 04:30 local time on April 18th. Through the use of containing nets, the passenger cabin can carry more cargo, increasing the aircraft’s capacity by up to 84%.

Primer vuelo especial a China | Una carga histórica y la satisfacción por la tarea cumplida. 13 toneladas de insumos médicos ya están en el país. ✈️🇦🇷 #AerolíneaDeBandera #Coronavirus

Posted by Aerolíneas Argentinas on Saturday, 18 April 2020

The entire operation lasts about 55 hours, according to an airline press release. This includes six hours on the ground in Shanghai to load the medical supplies. Personnel, to comply with quarantine requirements, will have to remain on board the aircraft at all times.

This marked the carrier’s first operations to China. After these two flights, Aerolineas Argentinas’ President, Pablo Ceriani, stated that the airline is planning on operating more of these flights:

“We are planning to go on making this kind of flights at least twice per week based upon the needs and as requested by the Government. This is our contribution, and the people involved in these operations are truly happy to serve the country.”

Below is the video of the first flight’s arrival in Buenos Aires:

Así aterrizaba el primer vuelo desde China ✈️🇦🇷. Un gran reconocimiento a todos los que hicieron posible esta operación especial. #AerolineaDeBandera #Coronavirus

Posted by Aerolíneas Argentinas on Saturday, 18 April 2020

The routing

A nonstop flight from Shanghai to Buenos Aires is over 10,500 nautical miles. No aircraft in the airline’s fleet, or really any other aircraft in the world, could make this flight. As a result, Aerolineas Argentinas had to get creative with the routing.

Aerolineas Argentinas Flies Its First Flight To China With An A330
The routing of the flight to Shanghai. Photo: Aerolineas Argentinas

So, the airline decided to fly the flight with a refueling stop in Auckland. The first flight, from Buenos Aires to Auckland, is a 15-hour leg over the Easter Island, French Polynesia, and then to New Zealand. The next leg is an 11-hour flight from Auckland to Shanghai.

Multiple flight crews have to operate the entire routing. On each flight, there are four captains, eight copilots, four flight technicians, and an operating dispatcher.

Aerolineas Argentinas Flies Its First Flight To China With An A330
Personnel are not allowed to leave the aircraft. Photo: Airbus

Aerolineas Argentinas

The airline is the flag carrier of Argentina and has a significant hold on the Argentinian market. The carrier is a member of the Skyteam alliance and operates several long-haul routes to destinations like Miami, New York-JFK, and Madrid.

Aerolíneas Argentinas Airbus 330-200 landing at Roe Getty
The carrier has an unmistakable livery. Photo: Getty Images

Recently, the carrier retired its last Airbus A340 leaving the airline’s long-haul fleet entirely comprised of the more fuel-efficient A330-200. The narrowbody fleet is made up of Boeing 737 Next Generations and MAX aircraft.

Aerolineas Argentinas Flies Its First Flight To China With An A330
The 737 makes up the airline’s narrowbody fleet. Photo: Eric Salard via Wikimedia Commons

The regional arm of the carrier is Austral Lineas Aereas– more commonly known as Austral. This carrier is based out of Buenos Aires’ smaller, Jorge Newberry Airport and flies Embraer 190 aircraft.


For some in Shanghai and Auckland, there may be an exciting sight in the skies with an Aerolineas Argentinas A330 flying special cargo-only flights. The aircraft’s snazzy livery will be hard to miss.

Aerolineas Argentinas flew its first flight to China in its history on April 15th. Since then, the carrier has operated another cargo-only flight and plans to continue as often as twice a week in the coming weeks, for as long as Argentina needs assistance.

What do you make of these A330 flights to China? Let us know in the comments!