Finnair’s A350 passenger cabins converted for freight transport
In the wake of the current coronavirus pandemic, Finnish carrier Finnair becomes the latest airline to temporarily transform their passenger cabins into freight carriages, also disclosing plans to fill two of its Airbus A350s with cargo to boost capacity between Europe and Asia.
Freight has only been transported in the belly of Finnair’s passenger A350s before now. As an airline without dedicated freighters, its cargo operations usually work in sync with passenger transport. However, plans have been unveiled by the carrier for the conversion of the cabins of two of its A350s for hauling cargo.
According to a Finnair spokesperson, the seats would not be removed from the aircraft. Still, they will be covered with light packages loaded on the seats, others stored in the overhead lockers and under the seats, adding that the majority of the cargo will still be carried in the belly of the planes. The airline says that its move will help boost the capacity for transporting emergency supplies, including coronavirus samples, between Finland, Estonia and also points in Asia.
The airline also plans to successfully operate over ten return A350 cargo flights to Osaka and Tokyo Narita in Japan, Seoul in South Korea, and Guangzhou and Shanghai in China. Similarly, KLM had earlier this month announced plans to recall and deploy two Boeing 747-400 combis that had been previously scheduled for retirement on cargo transport trips between the Netherlands and Asia.
Mikko Tainio, managing director of Finnair Cargo, said:
“We are working tirelessly on our cargo operations during these exceptional times.”
“Cargo traffic is crucial at the moment, and I am glad that we have been able to implement a new business model and quickly create a new freight network. I want to thank the entire Finnair team for their incredibly hard work.”
Austrian Airlines, American Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Etihad Airways and Cathay Pacific are some of the major airlines that have also begun using passenger aircraft to carry freight while passenger numbers face a 96% drop due to the COVID-19 pandemic and cautionary health restrictions.