Two of British Airways’ Boeing 777-200s have had their seats and interiors removed to increase their cargo-carrying capacity.

One of the jets is today being flown to Beijing in order to collect personal protective equipment, food, medicine, and other cargo.

“With demand for passenger travel still very low, working with IAG Cargo, British Airways is trying to use its grounded aircraft in creative ways to support in the global fight against Covid-19,” says the airline.

Air-cargo rates have risen sharply following the withdrawal of passenger-aircraft belly capacity amid fleet groundings.

IAG Cargo’s chief commercial officer John Cheetham highlights that it has acted to supply capacity during the coronavirus crisis, including by allowing the chartering of its aircraft. “Together with British Airways, we’ve been pleased to boost the cargo capacity of these aircraft, supporting our customers, including the NHS [UK National Health Service], to transport more critical supplies.”

BA started operating cargo-only flights using passenger aircraft in March. It began placing cargo on passenger seats in April, and its latest move will free up a further 100m³ of capacity on the two 777s.

The aircraft that have had their seats removed are G-YMMK and G-YMMG, both of which were built in 2000 and are owned by British Airways, Cirum fleets data shows.