American Airlines To Launch Additional Cargo Only Flights

American Airlines announced today that it is expanding its international cargo-only operations. This will provide over 5.5 million pounds of weekly capacity to transport critical goods between the US and Europe, Asia, and Latin America. 

American Airlines cargo-only flight from Dallas Fort-Worth
American Airlines is launching additional cargo-only flights. Photo: Getty Images

5.5 million pounds weekly capacity

In a press release issued on Thursday, American Airlines said it is increasing its weekly cargo-capacity to 5.5 million pounds. The new flights will be transporting critical goods between the US and Buenos Aires (EZE), Dublin (DUB), Frankfurt (FRA), Hong Kong (HKG), London (LHR), Seoul (ICN), and Shanghai (PVG). 

These cargo-only flights will help transport medical supplies and materials to the US, including pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment (PPE). In addition, they will also carry other essential goods such as manufacturing and automotive equipment, electronics, fresh fruit and vegetables, fish — and mail. 

“The air cargo industry plays a critical role in pulling the world together in times of crisis, and it takes all of us to get the job done,” said Rick Elieson, President of Cargo and Vice President of International Operations in the statement.

“With the expansion of American’s cargo-only flights, we have more capacity to bring critical medical supplies and protective gear to the areas that need it most. We also play a key role in transporting essential goods to keep the world’s economy moving.”

American 777-300 cargo flight
American Airlines is deploying its Boeing 777-300s on international cargo-only flights. Photo: Mark Harkin via Flickr

Boeing 777-300 to bring back supplies

Flights to Frankfurt (one weekly), Hong Kong (up to five times a week) London Heathrow (twice weekly), Dublin (once a week) and Buenos Aires (up to seven times a week) will all be operated by Boeing 777-300 widebody aircraft.

The 777-300 has 14 cargo positions for large pallets and can carry more than 100,000 pounds. American is not the only airline to make use of its widebody aircraft for cargo-only flights.

They will depart from Dallas-Fort Worth for FRA and HKG, from JFK for LHR and DUB, and from Miami for EZE. Flights to Frankfurt are already underway since the 19th of March. Meanwhile, the first flight for Hong Kong took off on Wednesday. The others will all have commenced by the start of next week. 

AA dreamliner
The airline will operate its Dreamliner planes for cargo-only flights to Asia. Photo: American Airlines

Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner to Asia

Origin cities for ICN and PVG are yet to be decided, but these flights will be operated thrice weekly by the airline’s Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner aircraft. The airline plans to begin these flights sometime by the end of the month. The 787-9 has a cargo capacity of 12 large pallets, or 154.4 cubic meters. 

“It’s an honor to be part of these cargo-only flights,” said Ken Jarrell, Fleet Service Clerk, Cargo Services – DFW said in a statement just as the first cargo-only flight to Frankfurt was launched.

“They represent much-needed aid for the world and hope for our team. Our team members across the airline are ready and willing to do what it takes to make sure people have the things they need during these unprecedented times.”

American Airlines 747
American retired the last of its Boeing 747 freighters in 1984. Photo: Piergiuliano Chesi via Wikimedia

First cargo-only since 1984

American Airlines began operating cargo-only flights to Frankfurt on the 19th of March. This was the airline’s first cargo-only flight since 1984 when it retired the last of its Boeing 747 freighters. Other airlines are now using passenger 747s for cargo operations. Moreover, American also carries cargo in the holds of the 17 international widebody passenger flights still in operation. Domestically, the airline continues to carry cargo on all of its planes. 

Do you know of other airlines turning their passenger planes into cargo-only operations? Let us know in the comments.