The airline will use grounded passenger jets to deliver goods from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport to Frankfurt Airport in Germany. The Boeing 777-300 aircraft will make two round-trips between the two destinations over four days.
“We have a critical role to play in keeping essential goods moving during this unprecedented time, and we are proud to do our part and find ways to continue to serve our customers and our communities,” said Rick Elieson, Americans Airlines’ president of cargo and vice president of international operations. “Challenging times call for creative solutions, and a team of people across the airline has been working nonstop to arrange cargo-only flight options for our customers.”
The resumption of freight flights was announced as U.S. passenger travel came to a near standstill over concerns related to the spread of coronavirus. The Trump administration warned Americans on Thursday to avoid all international travel as the outbreak worsens.
Most U.S. companies have implemented similar restrictions on non-essential business travel. Americans who do opt to fly are subject to long screening lines at airports.
President Trump said the airline industry would be among the first to receive a government bailout due to widespread travel restrictions that have crippled business in the short term.
"Airlines would be number one," the president said at a White House briefing on Wednesday. "You go from having the best year they have ever had to having no passengers because of what we have had to do to win this war – and it's a war."
American Airlines said its four planned freight flights “are expected to be booked to capacity and transport medical supplies, mail for active U.S. military, telecommunications equipment and electronics that will support people working from home, and e-commerce packages.”
The airline last conducted cargo-only flights in 1984 before retiring its freight fleet.