British Airways Restarts Cargo-Only 787 Routes To Asia

The carrier is moving back to using a passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights, citing rising e-commerce demand.

Credit: Joe Pries

British Airways (BA) has resumed two all-cargo Boeing 787-9 routes to Asia.

The carrier, like many airlines, used passenger aircraft for cargo-only flights during the COVID-19 pandemic, but BA and other carriers have largely moved away from that strategy as passenger demand returned. But BA is now restarting cargo-only 787 routes from London Heathrow (LHR) to Bangkok (BKK) and Hong Kong (HKG), citing rising demand for e-commerce and the movement of pharmaceuticals and perishable items.

The two routes were underway as of June 1, according to parent International Airlines Group (IAG). The LHR-BKK route will be operated 4X-weekly, while the LHR-HKG route will be flown daily.     

IAG Cargo said BA has completed more than 250 cargo-only flights on the LHR-HKG route since the start of the pandemic. “The early cargo-only flights in April 2020 mainly carried vital PPE, such as hand sanitizer, gloves, masks, etc.,” IAG Cargo said in a statement. “Then, three months into the pandemic, the business saw a major uplift of e-commerce as more people worked from home and upgraded their home tech set-ups … The pandemic has turbocharged an existing trend for the online purchase of goods and services, and this has continued to grow.”

IAG Cargo regional commercial manager-UK and Ireland Daniel Byrne added: “Hong Kong and Bangkok are an important part of our network with goods manufactured in the Far East popular with consumers across the world. With summer shaping up to be a busy period for IAG Cargo and our customers, this airbridge is vital for the movement of e-commerce and perishable foodstuffs, which are in high demand throughout the year.”