British Airways has finished converting a second Boeing 777 aircraft into a makeshift freighter. The British flag carrier is using the two jets to ferry PPE to the United Kingdom from China.
Recently there has been a trend in airlines removing seats from passenger aircraft to convert them into makeshift freighters. Given the current pandemic, there has been an enormous surge in demand to move PPE to Europe and elsewhere. However, with passenger flights grounded, cargo capacity fell.
First, airlines operated empty flights with cargo in the belly. Then they started to place light cargo onto seats in the cabin. However, now many are removing seats and using the floor for boxes.
Two Boeing 777s
British Airways has now converted two Boeing 777s to be used solely as makeshift cargo aircraft. IAG Cargo shared the news of the conversion on their Facebook page. By removing the seats onboard the aircraft, IAG Cargo has created an additional 100 meters cubed of space on each of the two 777s.
The first aircraft to receive the cargo treatment was G-YMMK, a 19-year-old Boeing 777-200. This aircraft spent ten days in Cardiff for its conversion from May 12th to May 22nd. We previously reported on this aircraft last weekend.
However, a second Boeing 777-200 has now also been converted. G-YMMG flew to London Heathrow yesterday, having had its cabin stripped out. It seems as though the maintenance staff spent less time than the first attempt, as this 19-year-old aircraft was only in Cardiff for five days from May 22nd to May 27th.
Beijing debut tomorrow
British Airways had been operating three flights per day with regular Boeing 777s to collect personal protective equipment for the NHS from China. Seven flights per week to Beijing and 14 to Shanghai.
While both Boeing 777s have remained on the ground at London Heathrow since returning from Cardiff, they will soon be put to work for their purpose. One of the makeshift freighters will make its first flight tomorrow, heading to Beijing to collect another load of PPE bound for the UK’s National Health Service.
Past cargo operations
The British Airways livery used to adorn three Boeing 747-8 cargo aircraft. These three aircraft were wet-leased from Global Supply Systems and were all delivered in the British Airways World Cargo livery in late 2011.
However, British Airways World Cargo stopped operating on April 30th, 2014. The business merged into IAG Cargo. While the group continues to move cargo around the world for IAG, it has no dedicated cargo aircraft. As a result, we have seen several aircraft from British Airways and Aer Lingus being used solely for cargo flights since the current crisis began.
British Airways has been using older 777 aircraft for cargo operations. Meanwhile, its competitor, Virgin Atlantic, has been using its newer Boeing 787 aircraft to move freight from China to the United Kingdom.
What do you make of British Airways’ two new Boeing 777 freighters? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!