American Airlines has joined the flight against COVID-19 by enlisting one of its Boeing 777-200 aircraft to fly vaccines to South America. The flight, organized in conjunction with the White House, carried 1.5 million vaccine doses to Guatemala City, with further flights to follow.
It’s become clear to many that vaccines are the answer to the aviation industry’s COVID-19 woes. For example, just yesterday, the UK revealed plans to allow those vaccinated in Britain to return without quarantine. However, it is in everybody’s interests that the vaccines reach all countries and not just the wealthiest.
Flying vaccines to Guatemala City
The White House has the initiative to share 80 million vaccine doses across the world this summer. However, it seems that it needs help to get the doses to where they are needed most. This is where American carrier American Airlines entered the picture.
Yesterday, an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 departed from Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. What made the flight special was its out-of-the-ordinary cargo. The jet had been loaded with 1.5 million COVID-19 vaccines bound for Guatemala City’s La Aurora International Airport (GUA).
The non-stop flight was operated as a cargo-only flight, with American Airlines agreeing to foot the bill as a donation. Before the flight, the vaccines were moved from a Kentucky distribution center to the airport via trucks.
Details of the vaccine delivery
According to flight-tracking service RadarBox.com, the aircraft involved, N793AN, departed Chicago at 12:27 as flight AA9702. The 1,651 nautical mile flight took the aircraft three hours and 43 minutes, with the jet touching down in Guatemala City at 15:10.
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It took a little over an hour to offload the shipment, with the aircraft departing the airport at 16:46. Its return trip took it 1,156 nautical miles to Dallas, Fort Worth, where it arrived at 20:37.
According to data from ch-aviation.com, N793AN is a 20.85 year old Boeing 777-200. The aircraft was ordered by American Airlines on August 14th, 1998. It took its first flight on September 8th, 2000, before being delivered six days later. It isn’t expected to be retired until at least 2025.
When not ferrying vaccines around the world, the aircraft focuses on passengers. It has 273 seats on the main deck. 212 of these are in the 3-4-3 economy cabin, with a further 24 premium economy seats in a 2-3-2 layout just ahead. At the front of the aircraft are 37 business seats in a 1-2-1 configuration.
According to data from Collateral Verifications LLC, the aircraft has a current market value of $6.96 million. As of February 28th, the jet had completed 78,364 flight hours across 10,027 flight cycles. This gives an average daily utilization of 10 hours and 29 minutes.
What do you make of American Airlines’ contribution to the fight against COVID-19? Let us know what you think and why in the comments below!