American Airlines Boeing 767-323. Photo: AirlinesFleet

MIAMI – American Airlines (AA) has announced the continuation of cargo-only flights as it plans to operate more than a thousand services in September.

The airline started operating 20 cargo flights to two cities in March for the first time in the 21st century.

In September, the airline plans to operate 1000 flights serving 32 destinations, doubling its August rates.

American operates cargo flights mostly using its Boeing 777 aircraft.

The Backstage

Since the first flights took off, they helped the airline’s customers move more than 45 million pounds of critical goods around the world amidst the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

The airline in its press release explains that the process for these flights to take-off was not an easy process.

Maulin Vakil, American’s Director of Cargo Customer Care explained that the airline didn’t have a playbook and that they have never done this before.

“We began to explore how much freight we could take if we couldn’t transport passengers.” – he said.

Team members from the airline’s Cargo, Network Planning and Operations teams joined forces to write a new strategy.

The plan would allow American Airlines Cargo to better serve its shippers despite a decreased passenger flight schedule resulting from the pandemic.

“We’re a passenger airline that also carries cargo, but the pandemic impacted that model”, said Chris Isaac, Director of Cargo Revenue Management at the time.

“COVID-19 made parts of our passenger schedule unpredictable”.

In the end, AA decided to go on with transporting cargo in the belly only.

American Airlines’ first Boeing 787 taking off from Paine Field back in 2015. Courtesy: Brandon Farris

The First Cargo Flights

On March 17, the team got the green light for final preparations.

The airline’s first cargo flight since 1984 took off on March 20th from Dallas to Frankfurt on a Boeing 777-300.

Additional flights to Hong Kong (HKG), Shanghai (PVG), Beijing (PEK) and Seoul (ICN) were launched.

Many of these flights deliver PPE and medical supplies from Asia to the USA, as well as mail, clothing and hard goods.

“It’s satisfying to know that we are both keeping American in the air and keeping the world economy afloat.”

American Airlines 737 MAX PHOTO: Carlos Lugo.

1,200 Passenger/Cargo FLights

Dennis Fiddler, a Customer Service Manager at American’s cargo facility in Miami, explains:

“We ensure countries are able to supply others with essential supplies. Although it feels like our borders are further apart because of COVID-19, our team is able to shorten that distance during this time of need.”

The idea that initially started as a few test flights have since flourished.

It became a dependable service for Cargo customers as demand around the world continues to grow.

This September, more than 1,000 scheduled cargo-only flights will be accompanied by more than 1,200 passenger flights also offering freight services.

It provides customers access to more than 2,200 flights throughout the month.

Airways has already written about American operating freight-only flights.

Featured image: American Airlines Boeing 767-323. Photo: AirlinesFleet