British Airways’ Airbus A350 fleet has proven to be a workhorse as far as cargo is concerned. While the aircraft are typically thought of for their passenger-carrying ability, there is a whole other world of cargo capacity below the aircraft’s main deck.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the sheer demand for cargo capacity around the world. Quite often, passenger aircraft will carry cargo in their bellies. As a result, when passenger aircraft were grounded, there was suddenly a considerable insufficiency of global cargo capacity. This saw many passenger aircraft operated sans people to utilize their cargo moving abilities.
The British Airways Airbus A350 fleet
British Airways received its first Airbus A350 in late July last year. The aircraft began flying between London and Madrid in August for staff training. However, IAG Cargo was able to get their hands on the A350-1000’s cargo space shortly after.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
IAG Cargo is part of the International Airlines Group, which also owns British Airways. While British Airways used to operate three cargo Boeing 747-8s, the airline now has no cargo aircraft. IAG Cargo is also strange in that it is an airline that doesn’t have any aircraft. Instead, it will sell the cargo space onboard other IAG member aircraft, such as British Airways and LEVEL.
Six A350s in service
British Airways now has six Airbus A350-1000 aircraft, with a seventh due to be delivered later this week. These A350-1000 aircraft can hold 14 pallets. This is the most of any aircraft and matches IAG cargo’s main workhorse, the Boeing 777-300.
In its time with British Airways, IAG Cargo has undoubtedly made good use of the British Airways fleet. While travel bans stopped passengers flying to destinations such as Tel Aviv and Dubai, cargo was unaffected. As such, right through the COVID-19 crisis, British Airways’ A350s continued flying to otherwise restricted destinations.
In total, the airline’s A350 fleet has operated some 150 cargo-only flights in the past six months. These flights have, naturally, carried all sorts of cargo. However, the Airbus A350-1000 fleet has moved far more fresh meat and fish than any other type of freight.
550 tonnes of fresh fish
In total, more than 550 tonnes of fresh fish have been carried by the fleet, compared to 450+ tonnes of chilled meat. Meanwhile, 350+ tonnes of fruit and vegetables were carried, showing the importance of air travel in moving food worldwide.
Additionally, 300+ tonnes of laptops accompanied 120+ tonnes of hand sanitizer and 80+ tonnes of Pharmaceuticals. Remember, this is just what the A350 fleet has carried. Scaled up across the whole IAG Cargo fleet, much more will have been carried in the past year.
Did you realize that you may be sitting above fresh fish when flying on a British Airways Airbus A350? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!