American Airlines is utilising its grounded passenger aircraft to move cargo between the US and Europe, on its first scheduled cargo-only flight since 1984.

The first cargo-only flight departs from Dallas Fort Worth International airport today (March 20), landing at Frankfurt airport on March 21. The Boeing 777-300 will operate two round trips between Dallas and Frankfurt over the course of four days, carrying only cargo and necessary flight personnel. These will be the first scheduled cargo-only flights since American retired the last of its Boeing 747 freighters in 1984.

The 777-300 has 14 cargo positions for large pallets and can carry more than 100,000 pounds. The four scheduled flights this weekend are expected to be booked to capacity and transport medical supplies, mail for active US military, telecommunications equipment and electronics that will support people working from home, and e-commerce packages.

The flights will provide much-needed cargo capacity for many of the airline’s regular cargo customers, allowing them to continue operating in this challenging environment.

Air cargo’s key role in delivering lifesaving medical supplies in times of crisis has never been more important than in the wake of the coronavirus outbrea, as the world relies more on e-commerce to support basic needs during quarantines and social distancing. The cargo airlines’ role is deemed a critical infrastructure industry by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“We have a critical role to play in keeping essential goods moving during this unprecedented time, and we are proud to do our part and find ways to continue to serve our customers and our communities,” said Rick Elieson, President of Cargo and Vice President of International Operations. “Challenging times call for creative solutions, and a team of people across the airline has been working nonstop to arrange cargo-only flight options for our customers.”

Domestically, American continues to carry cargo on all of its aircraft. The smaller narrowbody aircraft are vital in delivering medicine and e-commerce goods.

This week the airline also transported its first shipment of COVID-19 test kits from Raleigh-Durham International airport to Chicago O’Hare airport.