Germany’s Lufthansa has coined the term “preighter” for its burgeoning passenger-cargo business.
As we reported last week, more and more carriers are jumping on the passenger-cargo bandwagon.
The idea is a simple one. It’s to keep grounded passenger aircraft aloft so as to earn vital revenue.
Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr says there is currently “only high demand for air freight [not passengers].”
“In addition to our entire [regular] cargo fleet we have operated 70 cargo flights using A330 passenger aircraft.”
“We call these “Preighters” a combination of passenger aircraft and freighter.”
As we reported before (see above) fellow Lufthansa Group member Swiss is operating a multitude of similar flights while another member, Austrian, operates daily cargo flights between Vienna and China to collect medical supplies.
Austrian has removed 270 of the 306 seats from two B777-200s to give a 35 per cent increase in cargo capacity.
Currently we are operating daily cargo flights between China and Austria to collect urgently needed medical supplies helping against the coronavirus. We are now removing 270 of 306 seats from two of our Boeing 777 (OE-LPA & OE-LPC) increasing the respective cargo capacity by 35%. pic.twitter.com/Yrw4zW5ciQ
— Austrian Airlines (@_austrian) April 28, 2020
Most of these aircraft are being deployed to bring medical supplies from Asia to Europe.
Aircraft manufacturer Airbus has now devised a way for airlines operating A330/A350 aircraft to easily convert the passenger space for freight.
We are developing a solution for airlines to safely use their #A330/#A350 for pure cargo operations as "belly-freight" air cargo capacity is under pressure with grounded fleets. A way to help in the fight against #COVID19 & ensure revenues for airlines.
— Airbus (@Airbus) April 30, 2020
Other airlines boosting passenger-cargo flights include:
- Emirates which, from yesterday, is operating B777-300ER passenger-cargo flights on scheduled basis to no fewer than 58 worldwide destinations
- KLM, which has started a Shanghai-Amsterdam service with B777-300ER as “Cargo-in-Cabin” flights. If successful similar flights will be operated from Beijing and Hong Kong and several more aircraft will be converted
- Ethiopian Airlines has followed Kenya Airways (see previous report). It has converted four B777-300ERs to bring in medical supplies from China for distribution to 54 African countries
— Ethiopian Airlines (@flyethiopian) April 28, 2020
- United now operates 21 passenger-cargo flights weekly (using B777-300ER and B787-10s) from Frankfurt to seven US destinations including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles
- Hong Kong’s Cathay Pacific has started passenger-cargo flights using one or more B777-300ERs taking urgent medical supplies
Seats as cargo holds, crew as cargo marshals, passengers as boxes of PPE – we made a few changes when our first passenger aircraft with cargo loaded in the cabin took off on 23 April. But our focus on safety, teamwork and can-do spirit stayed the same and made this possible. pic.twitter.com/W9AL7xbra1
— Cathay Pacific (@cathaypacific) May 1, 2020
- Poland’s LOT could join them soon. It has approached Boeing with a view to modifying its B787 passenger aircraft for cargo use
- Icelandair is converting three B767s for passenger-cargo operation. They will operate Shanghai-Munich also Shanghai-Chicago via Reykjavik. Flightglobal reports Icelandair as saying its passenger network is suffering “significant revenue loss”.