British Airways (BA) has announced it is increasing its number of cargo-only flights from China to the UK from 13 to 21 a week as demand continues to rise.
From May, 14 flights per week will depart from Shanghai, and seven from Beijing carrying cargo in the hold and, where possible, in the cabin too. BA said the flights will be able to carry up to 770 tonnes of cargo for the NHS each week, including PPE and ventilators. The flights are operated in partnership with the UK Government and IAG Cargo. The British Embassy in China is working with the Department of Health to procure medical equipment from China and deliver it to NHS hospitals all over the UK.
Alex Cruz, British Airways’ chairman and chief executive, said: “As an airline we are in a unique position to help in the global response to Covid-19, whether it is through carrying UK residents back home, transporting vital cargo back to the NHS, or through our colleagues who are offering their skills to volunteer. We’re proud to be playing our part, and I’m grateful to everyone who is working to make these flights happen in these difficult times.”
The British Government’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.”
Last week, British Airways began carrying cargo in the cabin of its flights, as well as in the hold – the first time the airline has ever done this.