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‘Preighters’ is the new name for 2020’s aviation phenomenon

written by Adam Thorn | May 8, 2020

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.


  • Way back in 1967 and through 1970, the term PCF was a term used by British airlines to indicate PASSENGER COME FREIGHTER , particularly with the Viscount and HS 748. I used to do work at Belfast airport 1966-1970, before leaving for aviation in Australia, and completed many loadsheets for this combination. BMA on the Viscount, and on the C4 Argonaut, would have around 30 seats at the rear of the aircraft and the cargo up the front end, so its not a new term at all.
    Great days indeed. Good to see todays airlines adapting to the current pandemic situation though.

  • Preighter aircraft needs a lot of
    Ramp staff to load and offload this
    Might be a joke to some people but
    In reality it is physically torture
    Aching back , aching arms
    Aching muscles and me with
    Fibromyalgia does not help .
    Look there must be solution to this
    Donkey work which is going to be
    A long trend well into 2021/ 22 when
    If passenger volumes increase .
    The only way is installing a LFC
    Lift into the Boeing 777s were
    Airlines need to invest .

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