Emirates has introduced additional cargo capacity by using Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with seats removed from the economy class cabin. The measure has been introduced in response to the strong air cargo market demand for the rapid, reliable and efficient transportation of essential commodities such as personal protective equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, food, machinery and other supplies around the world.
Class seats have been removed allowing for up to seventeen tonnes or one hundred and thirty two cubic metres of additional cargo capacity per flight on top of the forty to fifty tonne cargo capacity in the belly hold of the widebody passenger aircraft. The modified Boeing 777-300ER aircrafts are being deployed on routes to key production and consumer markets where Emirates SkyCargo sees maximum demand for movement of urgently required goods. Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo said: “Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Emirates SkyCargo has taken very seriously its responsibility of connecting people and businesses across the world with the commodities that they urgently require. To this end, we have been working flat out, first to re-connect a global network of more than eighty five destinations and then to introduce capacity options that fit what our customers demand from us including passenger aircraft flying only with belly hold cargo and loading cargo in the overhead bins and on passenger seats. Now, with the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with modified Economy Class cabins, we will be able to transport even more cargo per flight, allowing for more cargo to reach their destination faster and for more efficient cargo operations.”
The modification of the economy class cabins of the ten Emirates Boeing 777-300ER is being executed at the state of the art Emirates Engineering facilities in Dubai with each aircraft requiring close to six hundred and forty man-hours of work for the modification. Engineers remove three hundred and five economy seats from one aircraft, fixing safety equipment and implementing regular load bearing tests during the process. Seven aircraft have already been modified by the Emirates Engineering team, with three more aircraft due to be ready by mid-July 2020.
Ahmed Safa, Divisional Senior Vice President Emirates Engineering said: “Converting our passenger aircraft to these mini freighters is certainly a sign of the times. Our teams have shown resilience, an innovative spirit and adapted quickly to the needs of the changing business environment. We have risen to the twin challenges of new procedures and safety protocols within set timelines, and we are extremely proud of what we have achieved.”
By the end of the project, the Emirates Engineering team would have removed 3,050 seats, which will be safely and hygienically stored away till the time the aircrafts are required for passenger services. The seats will be fitted back into the aircraft and tested for passenger safety and comfort.
With its focus on safety of operations, Emirates SkyCargo has implemented strict rules on the type of cargo that can be loaded inside the modified economy class cabins. Some of the cargo commodities that can be loaded include general cargo such as PPE and garments, pharmaceuticals that can be maintained within a temperature range of fifteen and twenty five degrees celsius and perishables such as cut flowers and select dry and non-smelling fruits and vegetables. The cargo loaded in the passenger cabins would need to be packaged inside a suitable external container such as a plastic or cardboard box in accordance with the latest regulations outlined by IATA.
Emirates SkyCargo is the freight division of Emirates. The air cargo carrier operates a combination of scheduled and chartered flights to more than eighty five global destinations every week. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Emirates SkyCargo has been acting as a global conveyor belt connecting markets across the world to supplies of essential commodities including PPE, pharmaceuticals, food and other perishables, e-commerce goods as well as machinery and other equipment. Emirates Engineering ensures that Emirates’ wide-body fleet of more than two hundred and sixty aircrafts are maintained in peak condition. The team is conducting regular parking checks on the grounded aircraft and scheduled A-checks, C-checks and operational maintenance on the flying fleet serving a mix of cargo and an increasing number of passenger destinations.