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British Airways cargo service lands in Atlanta

Photo by Curt Yeomans
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (center) announced the arrival of British Airways World Cargo’s Boeing 747-8F cargo service at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Thursday night. Reed has been working to turn Hartsfield-Jackson into one of the world’s top 10 airports for cargo business.

Photo by Curt Yeomans Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed (center) announced the arrival of British Airways World Cargo’s Boeing 747-8F cargo service at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport Thursday night. Reed has been working to turn Hartsfield-Jackson into one of the world’s top 10 airports for cargo business.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed stood in front of the roaring engines of a British Airways World Cargo Boeing 747-8F Thursday night, at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and declared that the ties between his city and the United Kingdom were getting a little stronger.

Reed, along with officials from British Airways World Cargo, and the British Consulate General’s Atlanta office, were gathered at the airport to announce that the airline is adding Atlanta to its list of worldwide destinations for its 747-8F cargo service.

“There is a special relationship that exists between Atlanta and the United Kingdom,” Reed told approximately 50 attendees at the announcement event. “Now, we’ve put an exclamation on that relationship by welcoming this British Airways World Cargo Boeing 747-8F to our airport.”

The arrival of British Airways World cargo service is expected to boost British business interests in the city, according to the United Kingdom’s diplomatic representative in the city.

Her Majesty’s Consul General for Atlanta Annabelle Malins said the arrival of the service at Hartsfield-Jackson is “good for British businesses, and good for Atlanta.” She said it could lead to more British investments in the metropolitan Atlanta area.

“British businesses have brought 30,000 jobs to Atlanta, even during the economic downtown,” Malins said. “With this new cargo service, I’m very confident that we’ll be seeing more business coming here [from the United Kingdom.”

Joe LeBeau, the vice president of Commercial British Airways and Iberia Cargo North America, said the company recently relocated its North American offices from New York, to Atlanta, to take advantage of the area’s quality-of-life opportunities. “It’s because of location and quality of life,” he said. “We work our people to the core, so we need to have a quality place for them to live.”

The announcement that British Airways World Cargo was going to bring its 747-8F to Atlanta is the latest step in Reed’s ongoing efforts to build Hartsfield-Jackson into one of the world’s top airports for cargo business.

City and airport officials began 2011 with the announcement that Italian cargo airline, Cargoitalia, was coming to Hartsfield-Jackson. In September, Korean-based Asiana Airlines began flying out of the airport as well, and Qatar Airways began service out of the airport a month later. Several other cargo airlines, that were already operating out of Hartsfield-Jackson, have added new flights this year.

“We intend to be one of the top 10 busiest airports in the world, with passenger traffic in the day, moving into air cargo at night,” Reed said. “There’s more work to be done, but right now, I just want to celebrate the arrival of British Airway’s cargo service.”

British Airways World Cargo will be operating two 747-8F service flights out of Atlanta each week, with a link to London-Standsted Airport, in the United Kingdom, according to LeBeau.

LeBeau said the Atlanta-to-London cargo connection will be part of a longer chain of cargo connections. He said the flights that go from Atlanta to London, will then go onto Frankfurt, Germany. He added that future destinations in the chain include Johannesburg, South Africa, and Nairobi, Kenya.

British Airways Spokesperson Kimberly Bauswell said the plane that was in Atlanta on Thursday night, for the announcement ceremony, had flown in to Hartsfield-Jackson, from Chicago. As it was leaving, to continue on its journey, she said, it was heading for London, and that the next legs in its cargo trips were London-to-Frankfurt, Frankfurt-to-New Delhi, India, and then New Delhi-to-Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Hartsfield-Jackson will be one of the first airports in the U.S., that a Boeing 747-8F aircraft flies out of, according to a news release from the airport.

According to Boeing’s web site, the aircraft is 250 feet, and 2 inches long, and has a wingspan of 224 feet, 7 inches, with a maximum fuel capacity of 60,755 gallons. The web site also said the aircraft has a total cargo capacity of 30,288 cubic feet.

Atlanta officials said the 747-8F has 16 percent more cargo capacity than its predecessor, the 747-400, adding that the new aircraft could carry the equivalent of a Blue Whale. They also said the 747-8F is capable of traveling the length of three soccer fields, which have a maximum length of 130 yards per field –– in one second.