Doha-based Qatar Airways Cargo has announced that it has resumed scheduled belly-hold cargo operations to China using passenger-configured Boeing 777- 300ER airliners. The first flight, from Doha to Beijing International Airport (IATA: PEK), took place on March 30, and the services will be expanded to include Shanghai Pudong (PVG), Chengdu Shuangliu (CTU), Hangzhou Xiaoshan (HGH), Guangzhou Baiyun (CAN) and Chongqing Jiangbei (CKG) over the next 48 hours.
The airline said the additional cargo capacity is being added to the carrier’s existing freighter services amid increased demand for the shipment of goods in and out of the region considering the urgent medical relief aid that is pivotal to the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Qatar Airways group chief executive, His Excellency Mr. Akbar Al Baker, said: “We are pleased to resume belly-hold cargo operations to China where the COVID-19 pandemic has been significantly contained and industrial production is restoring nationwide. In addition to our dedicated freighter service, the extra belly-hold availability leveraging the flexibility and reliability of our fleet will greatly enhance our cargo handling capacity in China to support market’s soaring demand for imports and exports, including the urgent outbound shipment of essential commodities, fresh produce, food products, and large proportion of medical supplies to other parts of the world that are currently facing the public health crisis.”
The belly-hold cargo flights will be operated on a turnaround basis assuming the routes previously assigned flight numbers and frequencies, without any cabin crew members or passengers on-board. Supplementing the existing cargo payload offered on Qatar Airways’ four freighter routes to China, the extra services bring the combined weekly capacity out of the country to more than 1,300 tonnes.
Following the People’s Republic of China’s State Council’s announcement on March 24 to boost the nation’s international airfreight capabilities, stabilise supply chains and enhance cooperation with global airlines, Qatar Airways is the first Middle Eastern carrier to resume belly-hold operations to all of its destinations in China by re-purposing the passenger-configured jets for cargo transportation.