THE FLIGHT DECK • December 2022
Air cargo has the unfair reputation of being a bit… dull, so it’s time to set the record straight. Most of our flights share the plane with freight through our sister company IAG Cargo – and you won’t believe what could be right beneath your feet. From a sea turtle to blockbuster production props and emergency Botox, Agatha Zarzycki reveals what we flew this year
Christmas for air cargo has come early this year, and in the sweetest shape possible. Since autumn, chocolate demands have soared (literally) to prepare for the most festive and foodie time of year, so much so that 50 tonnes of Belgian chocolate whizzed to Johannesburg in one go. Plenty of merriment happened before Yuletide, too: we flew four tonnes of Halloween candy to Bangkok, 20 tonnes of Easter eggs to various US cities and 500 tonnes of Valentine’s Day flowers across the globe.
The world did us proud in 2022. Lisbon received dancing shoes from London, Doha donned referee equipment from Italy for the FIFA World CupTM and the England and Wales Cricket Board donated 1.2 tonnes of cricket gear, from bats to balls and gloves, to schools affected by the flooding in Islamabad, capital of the cricket-mad nation of Pakistan. You can donate to Pakistan’s flood crisis appeal here.
Pakistan is known for more than just cricket. Its melt-in-the-mouth mangoes also deserve praise, so it’s no surprise that the UK received 30 tonnes of them in June and another 37 tonnes in August. As for South Africa’s banging blueberries, there’s no better proof that we love them than the 812 tonnes shipped from Johannesburg to Cape Town and London during the berry surge in autumn. Of course, we give as well as take – jetting off 1.2 tonnes of pizza seasoning in the summer to Riyadh, the Saudi Arabian capital.
To dine well is to drink well, and no one knows whisky better than Scotland, plus (almost) everyone loves an Old Fashioned, especially Americans on St Patrick’s Day. So they must have been green with gratitude for the 230 tonnes flown in from the Old Smoke. Though they’re not the only ones – we also Sir-Lanceloted a single emergency shipment of Champagne (eight tonnes, to be exact) from London to Malé for Valentine’s Day. On a more wholesome note, we moved cardamom coffee from Delhi to Toronto this winter (next stop London, pretty please?).
Champagne wasn’t the only speedy shipment this year. In March, we raced several tonnes of Botox from London to the US and Brazil. The next month, we zipped ten tonnes of tanning lotion to New York and, after that, 600kg of aloe vera for cosmetics production in Guatemala City. Make-up in its own right was also sky high on the priority list, with 14.5 tonnes arriving in Mumbai during autumn.
As though the Champagne isn’t enough excitement, meet rock-and-roll transporter Kerry O’Brien from IAG Cargo, who moves concert equipment for some of the world’s biggest talents. One time, he was working as a cargo agent in LA when a German Shepherd dog arrived. Kerry took care of it and, after looking through the paperwork, found out it was Ozzy Osbourne’s pooch. Two weeks later, Kerry received signed CDs, a thank-you letter for looking after the pup and a card from Sharon’s personal assistant. Kerry later managed to meet Ozzy. He took him to a Laker’s Game and they became good friends – Ozzy even went to his wedding.
If Ozzy’s German Shepherd gave you the fuzzy feels, then you’ll want to hear about April the sea turtle, who was rescued from a ghost net in the Maldives, flown to London, then transported by land to a new home in Scotland, where she just keeps on swimming despite her old injuries. Fun fact: before travel, we coated her in Vaseline so that her skin and shell didn’t dry out. Then there’s Bob, the famous pigeon we brought back to the UK after he got lost when racing from Guernsey to Gateshead and ended up a little further away – 4,300 miles – in Alabama.
Bob the pigeon wasn’t the only production this year (seriously, Bob, take a bow). Flying film production props – from cameras to costumes and equipment for visual and special effects – with our partner DHL Global Forwarding for location shoots is about as action packed as air cargo gets, especially if we’re shipping rushes, the raw footage from a day’s shoot (if you lose that, you’ll have one peeved director). John Meller, Partner at DHL Entertainment Logistics, frequently adventures across the globe to support the crew and cast. His first gig was the British Virgin Islands for six weeks. Where can we sign up?
Though transporting medicine isn’t as glamorous as bringing stories from the sky to the screen, the tech used is just as ground-breaking. In 2022, we teamed up with Envirotainer to support our shipments of temperature-sensitive pharmaceuticals and vaccines, and it has been a gamechanger. Envirotainer’s new Releye RLP and RAP containers eliminate the need to charge the battery during transit – and can power through for 170 hours. This means less risk for those 48 tonnes of cold and flu medicines we uplifted from the UK to the US in October, alongside the many other meds and vaxes.
The movement of medicine is especially important in humanitarian crises. In response to the war in Ukraine, IAG Cargo partnered with leading charities to deliver trauma supplies to the region of nearly 45 million people (that’s twice the population of Syria). One eight-tonne shipment in partnership with American-based NGO Project Hope utilised one of our A380s during its route from Boston via London to Warsaw, before going from the border of Poland into Lviv, and from there into Eastern Ukraine. Vice President of Project Hope, Chris Skopec, says, “Let’s keep it up, there’s a lot of work yet to do.” See how you can help here.
British Airways is a sister airline of IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group. Over the last year, IAG Cargo has purchased over ten million litres of sustainable aviation fuel, which can reduce CO2 emissions by more than 90 per cent compared to traditional jet fuel. Find out more about BA Better World, our sustainability initiative, here
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