Emirates has introduced additional cargo capacity by removing seats from economy class cabins onboard its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

    The latest measure is in response to the strong air cargo market demand for essential commodities such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, food, machinery and other supplies around the world following the outbreak of coronavirus (Covid-19).

    By operating 10 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with economy class seats removed, Emirates SkyCargo able to transport up to 17 tonnes more cargo per flight, on top of the 40-50 tonne cargo capacity in the belly hold of the widebody passenger aircraft.

    The modified Boeing 777-300ER aircraft are being deployed on routes to key production and consumer markets where Emirates SkyCargo sees maximum demand for movement of urgently required goods.

    Emirates divisional senior vice president, cargo, Nabil Sultan, 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 85 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 cabins is being executed at the state of the art Emirates Engineering facilities in Dubai with each aircraft requiring close to 640 man-hours of work for the modification.

    Engineers will remove 305 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.

    By the end of the project, the team would have removed 3,050 seats, which will be safely and hygienically stored away till the time the aircraft are required for passenger services. The seats will be fitted back into the aircraft and tested for passenger safety and comfort.

    Emirates Engineering divisional senior vice president, Ahmed Safa, commented: “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.”

    Several other airlines have removed seats from aircraft in order to increase capacity following the coronavirus outbreak, including Latam Cargo and Air New Zealand.

    Visit skycargo.com for more information.