By Albert Kuan
Korean Air Flies Its Longest Nonstop Flight
Korean Air flew its longest flight since its founding in 1969 last weekend using one of its Boeing 777-300ER passenger jets. The jet, registered KE8047, operated a nonstop cargo flight to Miami International Airport on June 12 from Korean Air’s base at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport. The journey lasted 14 hours 42 minutes, covering a total distance of 8,330 miles.
Although Miami, a hub for many passenger and cargo routes to South America, is already one of Korean Air’s cargo-only destinations, this is the first time the airline has flown a jet nonstop to the city. Normally, Korean Air cargo jets make a stop in Anchorage, Alaska to refuel and replace crew members.
The converted Boeing 777-300ER freighter flew from Incheon to Miami last Saturday before continuing its journey to the Dominican Republic after a technical stop. The jet carried 25 tons of Covid-19 diagnostic test kits for the Dominican Republic.
Before the Miami flight, Korean Air’s longest nonstop flight was its passenger service from Incheon to Atlanta, a 13 hours 50 minute journey traveling 7,796 miles. Although Korean Air has already converted a number of its passenger jets to freighters, the Atlanta service is still operating scheduled passenger service and remains the airline’s longest nonstop flight.
As a result of Covid-19’s impact on travel, Korean Air has converted 16 of its grounded passenger jets to freighters since last year, including 10 Boeing 777 and six Airbus A330 aircraft. The airline has removed passenger seats on these jets and installed Cargo Seat Bags on the remaining passenger seats. From March 2020 to the end of last month, the airline operated a total of 8,300 cargo-only passenger jet flights.
Korean Air has said in a press release that it intends to continue maximizing the schedule of its cargo operations and increase cargo-only passenger jet flights and chartered flights. In light of limited travel to South Korea, the airline is still operating limited scheduled passenger services, but it is mainly operating domestic flights within South Korea in addition to a number of domestic and international cargo flights.