Apr. 6, 2020 - The next time you fly on a wide-body, long haul aircraft, there is a chance that your 13-14 hour ride had transported cartons of facemasks in between the seats you are on.
Ever since governments around the world have placed restrictions on aircraft flying overseas, airlines have been flying the planes full to the brim with medical supplies from China to all corners of the world. Airlines such as the like of Scoot, Qantas, Swiss, Lufthansa, British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, Iberia, Korean Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines and many more have started ‘Passenger Freighter’ services. American Airlines, has also as a result of the COVID-19 situation, resumed its very first scheduled freight-only flight in over 30 years. The last time American airlines operated such a flight was in 1984 when it retired its last 747 freighter aircraft.
European aircraft manufacturer, Airbus has also stepped in and transported approximately 2 million masks from Tianjin, China, to Europe with their Airbus A300-800neo demonstrator. An A400M, later performed an airlift between Toulouse, where Airbus' final assembly line is located, to Madrid delivering critically needed medical equipment to the Spanish health system.
Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines has also fashioned a makeshift ‘Airbus A330 Combi’. The airline removed about 160 economy seats from two of their Airbus A330-200 aircraft leaving behind 42 economy class seats and all the business class seats. Although the aircraft is not an actual Combi aircraft due to restrictions. Airlines are using the extra space to transport boxes upon boxes of face masks and other lightweight medical essentials for foreign medical staff to use in their fight against the COVID-19 situation.