In response to rising demand, Delta Air Lines has announced that it will expand its flights to Shanghai, China. The carrier will add four additional nonstop Airbus A350 flights between Detroit and Los Angeles to the Chinese gateway. However, these flights will not carry passengers, just essential medical supplies heading to the front lines. Additional flights from Detroit started on April 14th, while Los Angeles to Shanghai flights will begin on April 16th.
Delta adding more cargo-only Shanghai flights
Demand for vital goods from China is increasing as the United States battles the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, Delta Air Lines is upping its previous thrice-weekly service from Detroit to Shanghai to a four-weekly service. Flights will depart Shanghai for Detroit on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays.
Service from Shanghai to Los Angeles will begin on April 16th and operate on a thrice-weekly schedule. Flights will depart for LAX on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Overall, this takes Delta up to daily cargo-only flights from Shanghai to the United States. All flights will be conducted with Airbus A350-900 aircraft.
Why the Airbus A350?
The A350-900 not only has the range to do these flights, but also the cargo capacity. Onboard, Delta can transport a maximum of 42 tons of cargo in the aircraft’s hold. At this time, it does not appear that Delta will be utilizing innovative seat bags or altering cabin configurations to carry more cargo.
While the Boeing 777-200LRs could handle the same route, these aircraft are not as fuel-efficient as the A350s. Further, Delta has likely parked a good number of 777s. Instead of adding the costs and logistics of taking the aircraft out of parking, it makes sense for the carrier to use A350s. However, some 777s are also being used to conduct essential repatriation flights.
What cargo is Delta hauling?
Onboard these aircraft will be essential medical equipment headed to the front lines. Healthcare workers are badly in need of surgical masks, gloves, gowns, and other personal protective equipment to treat COVID-19 patients. With the pandemic continuing to spread in the United States, Delta is offering a fast way to transport equipment quickly to the United States.
Once the cargo arrives in the United States, it will transfer off to Delta’s domestic flights. The carrier is still operating some domestic services to keep in compliance with its minimum service requirements established by the Department of Transportation. Delta has to meet these requirements to receive government aid through a relief package.
The rise of cargo-only flights
While cargo and passengers do travel together quite frequently, the COVID-19 pandemic has led many passengers to halt their leisure travel leading many carriers to suspend flights.
However, vital cargo still needs to get around the world. So, several airlines are launching cargo-only flights. Delta launched cargo-only flights from Detroit early this month. The carrier is leaving open the possibility to add more flights if demand warrants.
For now, Delta is taking things slow with cargo-only operations. There are still many cargo airlines flying across the world, so passenger airlines are still competing with other carriers. But, in this unprecedented time, more cargo than ever before needs to get to the front lines quickly.
What do you make of Delta’s increased frequencies from Shanghai? Let us know in the comments!