Delta switches flights to cargo, enabling US medical supply delivery from China

April 2, 2020

As demand for medical supplies continues to grow in the U.S., vital supply lines are getting a boost as Delta Airlines restarts regularly scheduled operations from China with the launch of cargo-only flights between Shanghai and Detroit. 

The flights will operate three times weekly using a fuel-efficient Airbus A350-900 aircraft, a widebody jet that can carry 49 tons of cargo in its hold. Once the cargo arrives in Detroit, it will be transferred to domestic passenger flights to be shipped to destinations around the U.S.

“We know getting surgical masks, gloves, gowns and other protective equipment expeditiously to facilities across the country is imperative to protecting medical professionals and helping address the COVID-19 situation,” said Shawn Cole, Vice President – Delta Cargo. “Operating regularly scheduled cargo flights means suppliers in China can get these supplies to hospitals and healthcare facilities across the U.S. within hours, not the days or weeks it would take via cargo ship.”

Delta will evaluate increasing to daily flights or explore opening additional U.S. gateways, depending on demand. 

China-based suppliers of medical protective equipment recently restarted production but have been looking for alternatives to the U.S., with passenger flights suspended. Flying cargo-only flights between China and the U.S. will help keep vital supply lines open. 

The airline’s last cargo-only flights were operated by Northwest in 2009. Delta has been operating on-demand charter flights to support the growing need for air cargo. Last week the airline flew several flights between Dublin and Atlanta and Los Angeles and Sydney. The new cargo charter operation provides safe and reliable transportation of essential goods to communities around the globe using aircraft that would otherwise be parked. 

Delta Airlines has the announcement.

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