Delta Air Lines announced Tuesday it would expand its cargo-only flights between the U.S. and Asia to meet the growing demand for medical supplies in the fight to stop the coronavirus outbreak.
Delta revealed it would cargo operations would grow this week with the addition of daily flights from Los Angeles, supplementing the Detroit service the airline launched on March 30. The route will operate daily to and from Shanghai, with a stop in Incheon.
The Detroit-Incheon-Shanghai service will operate four times weekly and will be supplemented by the Los Angeles-Incheon-Shanghai route running three times a week. The flights will utilize Delta’s fleet of Airbus A350-900 aircraft to maximize cargo capacity.
“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 pandemic,” Delta Cargo Vice President Shawn Cole said in a statement. “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.”
When the planes return to the United States loaded with medical supplies, they will be distributed to various domestic passenger flights and shipped to destinations around the country.
Although Delta’s last cargo-only flights were operated by Northwest in 2009, the carrier continues to step up to keep vital supply lines open and is explore opening additional U.S. gateways, depending on demand.
On Tuesday, Delta also announced it would extend waived change fees and the flexibility to travel through May 31, 2022, to customers with canceled travel through June 2020.
In addition, the airline is helping customers and employees practice social distancing on the ground and in the air by instituting temporary changes, including reducing the number of passengers per flight, blocking middle seats in several cabins, processing available upgrades at the gate, modifying the boarding process and more.
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