Virgin Atlantic Cargo will expand its cargo-only network to Evenes, operating flights between London Heathrow and Norway for the first time in its history.
The first official flight will depart on 3 February. Twice weekly flights on the airline’s 787-9 will offer more than 100 tonnes of capacity each week, primarily serving the Norwegian seafood and fish industry.
Virgin said seafood could also travel onwards to various US destinations – reaching them up to 72 hours faster than current solutions through Oslo – and to other gateways in its network.
A test flight operated on Wednesday (27 January) as part of the launch preparations, with Kuehne+Nagel a key player in the project. Virgin Atlantic said challenges included limited hours of daylight per day, cold and windy weather (with winter temperatures reaching highs of -2°C) and de-icing requirements. All pilots took part in special training for the unique approaches and departures they will experience alongside detailed briefings and airfield assessments that they will conduct at the airport.
“Virgin Atlantic Cargo continues to expand at pace, and this exciting new launch is testament to the innovative spirit of our business,” said the company’s managing director Dominic Kennedy.
“Norway is our 11th new cargo destination in twelve months, and we’re now able to offer customers a fast, efficient cargo service via London Heathrow onto the rest of our network.
“We look forward to working alongside Avinor, Perishable Centre North, Widerøe Ground Handling and especially Kuehne+Nagel as we provide this seamless service for customers.”
Kuehne+Nagel global head perishables & carrier management air logistics Dennis Verkooy commented: “What sounded impossible has quickly developed into an innovative solution. Together with our partner, Virgin Atlantic Cargo, we are now able to provide our customers in northern Norway a service that is not only reliable and secure, but also gives them the fastest possible access to their markets.
“The new route will ensure that temperature-sensitive products will arrive on time and in perfect condition with maximum freshness to consumers.”