Many airlines around the world are now finding ever more ingenious ways to turn their passenger planes into freighters. Lufthansa chief executive Carsten Spohr, though, has become the first to give the phenomenon a surely soon-to-be ubiquitous name.
“We call these preighters – a combination of passenger aircraft and freighter,” the German chief executive said.
And, until coronavirus restrictions end, there is no sign of this trend slowing down. Most of the world’s air cargo is normally transported in the belly of passenger planes rather than the cargo aircraft. This amount increases by up to 80 per cent on trans-Atlantic routes. But due to the travel restrictions, the global air cargo capacity shrank notably and prices for air cargo transportation went up.
As a result, many airline operators such as Lufthansa, KLM, SWISS, Ethiopian, Qantas, Air Canada, Austrian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines proceeded to modify their planes to transport cargo on passenger seats or even by removing passenger seats.
Carsten said there is currently a high demand for only air freight: “In addition to our entire cargo fleet, we have operated 70 cargo flights using A330 passenger aircraft.”
Lufthansa removed all seats from four Airbus A330s.
On Thursday, World of Aviation reported that Franco-Italian aircraft manufacturer ATR is one of a number of companies offering flexible cargo capacity solutions to easily reconfigure full passenger jets to cargo or a mix of both.
Additional reporting by Airlinerwatch.com.