Virgin Atlantic have operated a “There And Back” trip between London Heathrow and Shanghai Pudong.
As spotted yesterday in the Virgin Atlantic fleet whereabouts article, the flight was operated using a Boeing 787. After making the 10hour 11 minute flight, the aircraft was on the ground in Shanghai for around 3 hours. It then departed back to Heathrow where it is due to land just over 24 hours after it left.
But Whats So Special About This Flight?
This flight operated without any passengers. Instead, this was a cargo only flight, operated by a single crew. As mentioned, this was a There And Back trip for the crew. Usually reserved for shorter European hops, this is where the crew operates the flight out, and then heads straight back to base without a stop over.
Obviously, during normal times, this isn’t feasible for a flight between London and Shanghai. Therefore, Virgin Atlantic had to get special dispensation from the CAA in order to operate the flight with just a single crew.
On board were 7 flight crew, all taking shifts to operate the aircraft during the 12,000 mile round trip. In addition, there were 3 cabin crew on board the flight.
The cargo on board the flight was essential supplies for the NHS in the fight against Coronavirus. In addition to storing the cargo in the regular cargo hold, boxes were securely fastened in the passenger cabin also.
A number of airlines have started using passenger aircraft for cargo flights, as this is one of the few ways they can still make money whilst passenger demand is virtually non existent.
Virgin Atlantic will operate three of these cargo flights to Shanghai per week. This is in addition to a number of cargo only flights operated between London and New York that started a couple of weeks ago.