Korean Air flew its longest-ever nonstop service last weekend, flying a mammoth 15-hour flight from Seoul to Miami. The cargo-only 777-300ER was carrying 25 tons of COVID-19 testing kits to the Dominican Republic. Let’s find out more about Korean Air’s rare ultra-long-haul flight.
According to the airline, the flight took place on Saturday, June 12th. Korean Air flight KE8074 departed Seoul’s Incheon Airport at 21:14 local time, flying over 13,405 kilometers (8,330 miles) to Miami. Interestingly, despite the length of the journey, the flight only entered the airspace of one other country.
The flight took a fairly straightforward path to the US, flying over Japan before making the long journey over the Pacific. The 777 entered US airspace over the state of Washington at 14:30 local time, leaving only the transcontinental journey to Maimi. The plane cruised at 35,000 feet for nearly all of its mammoth flight.
The flight touched down at Miami International Airport at 22:42 local time, a full 14 hours and 42 minutes after departure. This meant the flight had beaten Korean Air’s longest route from Seoul to Atlanta by 52 minutes, which takes 13 hours and 50 minutes.
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The aircraft operating this route is a Korean Air Boeing 777-300ER, registered HL8218, and delivered new to the airline in November 2011, according to ch-aviation. While this 9.6-year-old plane is usually ferrying up to 291 passengers, it is currently flying cargo-only missions for Korean. This means most seats have been removed and replaced with freight.
This particular flight was on an important mission of delivering 25 tons of COVID-19 diagnostic kits to the Dominican Republic. From Miami, the aid was transported to another plane for the short flight into the Caribbean.
Miami itself is not a new destination for Korean Air, with the airline flying a cargo route to the city six times a week. However, usually, aircraft make a stop in Anchorage, Alaska, to change crews and refuel. Considering the lighter load on this service, it likely carried a backup crew onboard and had enough fuel to fly nonstop.
On the return leg, the 777 stopped in Anchorage before making its way back to its hub in Seoul. The aircraft is currently over the Pacific at the time of writing.
For Korean Air, cargo is critical to maintaining its strong financial position. Indeed, the airline has reported four straight quarters of profits now, including the first quarter of 2021 most recently. This is an exceptional feat considering nearly every airline around the world is currently mired in deep losses.
This streak of profitability can be credited to Korean’s bustling cargo business. The carrier has doubled its freight revenue compared to Q1 of 2020, which has ensured relatively strong revenues and a profit. For now, expect Korean Air to continue its cargo-only operations as it compensates for weak passenger demand.
What do you think about Korean Air’s cargo operations? Let us know in the comments!