First left – or turn right?
Two different routes – each of them unusual – link points of departure and arrival that are quite close to each other. This story’s two protagonists, TAP Air Cargo and Aerolíneas Argentinas, have decided to put their interesting experiences garnered in the current Covid-19 downturn to permanent use.
15 hours and 3 minutes is how long the longest flight that TAP Air Portugal has ever operated in its 75-year history was in the air. It took off from Guangzhou on 2 May and was destined for Lisbon (of course!). There were no passengers on board the Airbus A330-900, however – only equipment needed to combat the illness Covid-19. The largest part thereof was required in Brazil, so the widebodied unit – the cabin is particularly well-suited to transporting light cardboard boxes – took off for Belo Horizonte after it landed in the Portuguese capital.
At the heart of Europe
TAP Air Cargo has been carrying out regular ‘only-freighter’ flights from its Lisbon hub since the beginning of May, serving Brazil (São Paulo GRU, Fortaleza and Rio de Janeiro), Angola and Mozambique, the USA (Chicago, New York EWR) and Madeira and the Azores. In mid-month, aiming to increase aeroplanes’ freight capacities, the carrier started to remove seats from the first of its 19 Airbus A330-900s.
In November 2018 TAP Air Portugal was Airbus’s official launch customer for the revamped European long-haul aeroplane; at that time it took over the first of these aircraft of which it has no less than 21 in its fleet in the meantime.
The flag carrier TAP Air Portugal already added 13 new aircraft to its fleet in 2019, connected 37 new destinations that year, and simultaneously improved its offline network, bringing the latter to a total of more than 250 stations. On 1 May this year, finally, TAP Air Cargo appointed Sky Cargo Solutions as its GSSA in Austria and Germany, to market its solutions in two of the most important markets at the heart of Europe.
From the Middle Kingdom
Aerolíneas Argentinas, founded in 1929, is taking a slightly different route. It imported airfreight from China on eight flights from Shanghai between mid-April and mid-May. Its Airbus A330-200 – with the cargo in its cabin – took 52 hours for the 38,000 km return legs across the Pacific Ocean via Auckland, a hub the airline had previously deleted from its network eight years ago.
The experience gained will be used by a new and more efficient business unit for airfreight and the concomitant handling processes. This announcement was made on 5 May, together with the one for the airline’s merger with its regional subsidiary Austral Líneas Aéreas.