Virgin Atlantic cargo-only flights deliver medical supplies across the globe

Virgin Atlantic plane being prepared for a cargo flight
Virgin Atlantic
Clare Kelly
by Clare Kelly
24 March 2020

Virgin Atlantic has flown its first ever cargo-only chartered flight, loaded with pharmaceutical and medical products.

Flight VS698 departed from London to New York on Sunday March 21st with two pilots and one cabin crew member on board. 

Captain Steve Wrigley, first officer James Bennett, and cabin service supervisor Katie Lang accompanied the 11 pallets of cargo sent to the US by a UK-based pharmaceutical company. The aircraft was then turned around at JFK and flown back to the UK full of inbound cargo.

Cargo ready to be loaded onto a flight
Virgin Atlantic

Every year, Virgin Atlantic transports over 200,000 tonnes of cargo on its global network. If you’ve ever flown with Virgin Atlantic chances are you were sitting above goods and products being shipped around the world. Global trade depends on airlines to get things from A to B and that need hasn’t lessened amidst the crisis we now face.  

The widespread cancelation of flights across the entire aviation sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been accompanied by a drastic decrease in cargo space available.

Airline capacity across the Atlantic is a fraction of what it was a few months ago, yet the demand for trade continues, and vital supply chains need to be maintained.

Virgin Atlantic pilots prepare for take off on a cargo flight
Virgin Atlantic

Dominic Kennedy, Managing Director of Cargo at Virgin Atlantic, said: “I must say, standing out on the ramp at an eerily quiet Heathrow today really brought home to me the scale of what’s happening here - and added to my feeling of immense pride as I watched our inaugural cargo-only charter get airborne, knowing the aircraft would have otherwise been sat on the ground if not for the herculean effort by our cargo team in making this happen, especially at such short notice and in these challenging times.”

Virgin Atlantic is able to fly cargo but not passengers due to the Covid-19 travel exemptions for pilots and cabin crew operating flights – it’s thanks to these that global air freight will remain functional in these incredibly trying times.

Until they’re able to welcome you back onboard, Virgin Atlantic will continue to fly cargo to destinations around the world. We thank their incredible commercial, engineering, airport and operations teams for making this possible.