By Benjamin Pham
Delta, Virgin Atlantic Extend Air Cargo Partnership
This summer holiday travel season was not like last year’s, which was during the height of the Covid-19 ordeal. Several major airlines have resumed key flights in their route networks and inaugurated brand new routes to accommodate and handle the ongoing surge in passenger travel demand. However, throughout the duration of the Covid-19 predicament, major carriers did not only experience reductions and influxes in passenger travel, as air cargo has increased in response to the global pandemic. As a result, Delta and Virgin Atlantic have extended their air cargo partnership for airports in the United Kingdom.
“Our U.K. cargo operation is a critical part of our global network, and the world-class dnata facilities we share with our partner Virgin Atlantic provide our customers with one-roof operations where they can pick up and deliver shipments for both partners – making it easier to do business with us,” Vishal Bhatnagar, Managing Director for Cargo Operations for Delta Cargo, said. “We are looking forward to the opening of the import facility later this year, and the continued strong partnership with Virgin Atlantic Cargo and dnata which is setting us up for future success in this market.”
The notable SkyTeam carrier and Virgin Atlantic plan to extend their air cargo agreement with dnata for another five years, following efficient and smooth operations for freight and export services in the joint hub of London and Manchester. Other regional cargo entry points such as Aberdeen, Birmingham, Edinburgh and Newcastle will continue to have cargo operations within the partnership from dnata.
Tania Boyes, Head of Cargo Operations at Virgin Atlantic Cargo, said, “We couldn’t be more thrilled to announce that we will be working alongside dnata for a further five years. We’d like to pay particular thanks to dnata for their support during the last 16 months, which has been invaluable during such unprecedented conditions and a vital time for our airline’s cargo operations. As we look to the future, we can’t wait to continue working together as we enter this next exciting chapter for our business.”
Within the air cargo partnership, the two carriers plan on utilizing the cargo service provider’s brand new 117,000 square-foot import facility, which will be an extension of existing facilities. Additionally, the carriers plan to have access to dnata’s new technology to handle and support substantial cargo operations within each of their route networks.
The United Kingdom has been at the center of attention this summer as its borders have remained closed for longer than other tourist hotspots in Europe such as Greece, Spain and France. However, earlier this month, the U.K. announced its borders will reopen to fully vaccinated travelers from the U.S. In response, the Atlanta-based carrier unveiled flight resumptions and increased flight frequencies from its hubs.
Flights from Detroit and Seattle to London’s Heathrow Airport will resume in October, four times a week and three times a week respectively, while flights to New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport will be twice a day beginning Oct. 6. Ultimately, Delta will be participating in the cutthroat and competitive transatlantic market with 30 weekly flights this f all.
“This long-awaited reopening marks a major milestone since the borders closed to most travelers, more than a year ago,” Joe Esposito, Senior Vice President for Network Planning, Delta, said. “We’re excited to help customers reclaim their joy of travel, always keeping their health and safety our top priority amid the dynamic environment of global travel.”
Evidently, Delta has been observant of the passenger and cargo trends within the airline industry. The airline has adjusted accordingly to meet the surge in passenger travel demand. However, the Covid-19 complication remains an obstacle as long as it remains ongoing and continues to evolve. Passengers are eager to travel and cargo must be supplied promptly to its recipients, but the question remains on how to do it safely.