For months already, British carrier Virgin Atlantic has been operating cargo-only passenger flights connecting London-Heathrow (LHR) with Brussels and Milan respectively. Beginning soon, Frankfurt (FRA) has been added to the carrier’s pan-European feeder flight itinerary, with GSA ‘Kales Airline Services’ marketing the capacity of the aircraft.
Starting 25APR21, Virgin Atlantic Cargo will operate twice-weekly ‘preighter’ flights linking Rhine-Main with Heathrow on weekdays 2 and 7. In MAY21, a third cargo flight will be added, taking off from FRA each Thursday. The carrier deploys Boeing 787 equipment, capable of accommodating 40+ tons in its lower deck compartments. Its ground handling agent at FRA is Swissport, who has just moved into a state-of-the-art, new warehouse at FRA’s CargoCity South.
“Within the Kales Group, we have been working very hard for a long time to convince Virgin to fly to Frankfurt. Now, they have given the green light for the service,” Nouri Neller, Managing Director of Frankfurt-based general cargo sales agent, Kales, applauds.
“It is great to see that we are expanding our existing partnership with Virgin Atlantic through these online flights to and from FRA. We are sure to make this much-needed online service a joint success for the German market,” comments Sebastiaan Scholte, CEO Kales Group.
Attractive global network
“Virgin Cargo is a quality carrier that offers its clients an extremely attractive intercontinental route network, and operates very flexibly, depending on market demand,” Neller says. Evidenced by services to New York, Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, Johannesburg, Delhi, Mumbai, and Hong Kong among others.
Asked about the aircraft, he says the B787 is a good choice, but from a GSA's point of view, an Airbus A350, which Virgin also has in its fleet, would be even better because it offers room for three additional pallets.
Frankfurt is the third airport, following Brussels and Milan, that Virgin has included in its European ‘preighter’ network. While FRA will be serviced twice weekly at the beginning, similar to the Milan service, flights between Brussels and Heathrow are operated daily, and also marketed by Kales.
Flying beats trucking
In addition to feeder flights, trucking goods from continental Europe to Heathrow remains an option but has lost its attractiveness lately, Mr. Neller indicates. This is because the running times of trucks have become incalculable due to Brexit. New customs regulations for goods crossing the EU-UK border, a lot of paperwork and documentation to be shown to controllers before a truck is allowed to cross the border, and other bureaucratic obstacles are all time-consuming issues that are slowing down supply chains. Although British industry associations have repeatedly demanded the simplification of documentation, nothing much has changed since Brexit came into force. Therefore, instead of trucking, Virgin Atlantic Cargo prefers to fly as many goods as possible from continental Europe to London on its intercontinental ‘preighters’ into and out of Heathrow - much to the delight of its GSA.
Particularly concerning the Frankfurt cargo-only passenger flights: “we from Kales are hoping for a stable connection in the long term,” Nouri Neller wishes.
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