British Airways Ups Cargo Flights To Relieve UK PPE Shortage

British Airways is announcing that it will increase the number of cargo flights it is operating to China. It comes as the UK continues to grapple with a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers.

British Airways, Cargo Flights, China
British Airways is increasing cargo capacity from China to deal with a shortage of PPE. Photo: British Airways

A lack of PPE for the NHS has dominated headlines in the United Kingdom as the nation continues to battle the current pandemic. Airlines such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic have been operating cargo flights to China to provide further much needed PPE. Now, British Airways has revealed it is introducing more flights to increase capacity between China and the United Kingdom.

More flights, higher capacity

British Airways has beefed up its cargo capacity between China and London. It has achieved this with a double-pronged approach. Initially, the airline was only operating with cargo in the hold of its aircraft. However, it is now joining many other airlines in loading cargo into the passenger cabin.

Unlike some other airlines, including Lufthansa and Air Canada, British Airways has so far refrained from removing seats from the cabins of its Boeing 777s operating the freight flights. However, the British flag carrier is also upping the number of cargo flights it operates to collect the PPE.

British Airways, Cargo Flights, China
The airline has finally started to load cargo into the aircraft’s cabin. Photo: British Airways

Last week, the British flag carrier operated 13 freight flights from China, carrying aid for the UK’s National Health Service (NHS). However, it is going to up this by just over 50 percent. The airline will operate 21 flights each week – averaging three per day.

The airline will operate seven weekly flights to Beijing, and 14 weekly flights to Shanghai. Together the new schedule will allow British Airways to transport as much as 770 tonnes of medical supplies per week.

Commenting on BA’s increased cargo capacity from China, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

“These flights will help us deliver essential equipment to the NHS and for others who are working on the front line. Coronavirus is a global challenge and we are focused on working with our international partners to stop the spread of the virus and save lives.”

British Airways, Cargo Flights, China
The airline can now carry 770 tonnes of cargo from China each week. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

Othe airlines also helping

British Airways isn’t the only IAG airline helping to bring medical supplies to Europe. Sister airline and Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus has been operating regular cargo flights from China to Ireland using its Airbus A330s. However, one of these was delayed by a bird strike on departure. Aer Lingus received the very last new passenger A330 with classic engine options.

In terms of the United Kingdom operations, Virgin Atlantic has also been flying cargo flights. Its Boeing 787-9 registered as G-VFAN has been moving medical supplies from Shanghai to the United Kingdom.

Will this increase in cargo flights be enough to deal with the United Kingdom’s PPE shortage? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.