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A UPS Boeing 767F at Vienna Airport. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | James Dinsdale)

UPS Airlines to Operate ‘Project Air Bridge’ Flights in Response to COVID-19

This week, UPS Airlines announced that it will operate 25 charter flights as part of “Project Air Bridge.” Project Air Bridge was launched by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) on March 29, 2020.  Its purpose is to expedite the delivery of medical supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE)  needed in the fight against COVID-19 to the United States from overseas.

According to the shipping giant, the flights will be operated by a combination of UPS aircraft and third-party aircraft chartered by UPS’s Global Logistics and Distribution division. Although UPS is not able to release specific destinations or scheduling information, the company confirmed that flights will be arriving at destinations in the United States on a daily basis between now and the end of April. Shipments will originate from around the globe including China, Malaysia and Honduras.

The shipments will deliver over three million pounds of equipment needed in COVID-19 hotspots including thermometers, gloves, masks, surgical gowns and medical swabs. With the amount of equipment being transported, it should come as no surprise that the selection of aircraft being used to operate the flights is stacked with heavy jets. The Boeing 767-300, 777, MD-11, 747-400, and 747-8 will all be used to operate the UPS Project Air Bridge flights. The 767-300 has the lowest maximum payload of the group at 132,200 pounds, whilst the 747-8 can carry the most cargo of the group with its maximum payload of 307,600 pounds.

The 747-8 operated one of the early UPS Project Air Bridge flights which arrived at the UPS Worldport in Louisville, Ky. on the night of April 5, 2020. The flight originated in Shanghai, China with a stop in Anchorage, Alaska. Cargo onboard the flight included medical gowns, face masks and nasal swabs, after being unloaded from the aircraft, the cargo was placed on trucks to destinations around the United States.

In addition to the Project Air Bridge flights, UPS has also opened a 450,000 square foot healthcare distribution center on April 4, 2020, which has dedicated space for FEMA. This new healthcare distribution center is located near the UPS Worldport which will give the company the ability to expedite overnight deliveries around the United States.

According to FEMA, Project Air Bridge has reduced shipment times of these critical medical supplies from weeks to days.  It is estimated a total of 65 Project Air Bridge flights will be operated over the next 30 days.

Author

  • Jordan joined the AG team in 2018 after attending AAviationDay in Philadelphia. He is actively pursuing his private pilot certificate and has been an aviation enthusiast since childhood. An attorney by trade, Jordan jokingly refers to himself as a “recovering litigator” and now focuses on subcontracts management. Jordan focuses his writing on innovations in commercial aviation, aviation history, and other interesting topics he feels are worthy of discussion in the community.

Jordan Green

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