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As COVID-19 grounds fliers Emirates converts 10 passenger aircraft into mini freighters

Emirates modifies Economy Class cabins to make space for cargo

Desperate times calls for unconventional measures.

With the spread of COVID-19 grounding passenger aircraft due to travel restrictions and fear, Emirates, one of the Asia’s biggest airlines, has created additional cargo capacity by removing seats from the Economy Class cabin in 10 of its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

This is in response to strong air cargo demand for efficient transportation of essential commodities such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, food, machinery and other supplies around the world, the airline said.

Emirates Engineering modified the aircraft and these will be operated by Emirates SkyCargo, the cargo arm of the airline.

The removal of Economy Class seats has allowed for up to 17 tonnes or 132 cubic metres of additional cargo capacity per flight on top of the 40-50 tonne cargo capacity in the belly hold of the wide-body 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. The destinations have not been named.

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.”

“Now, with the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with modified Economy Class cabins, we will be able to transport even more cargo per flight,” he said in a statement.

Each aircraft required close to 640 man-hours of work for the modification at Emirates Engineering facilities in Dubai.

Engineers 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, 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,” he added.

By the end of the project, the Emirates Engineering team would have removed 3,050 seats, which will be stored till the time the aircraft are required for passenger services.

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 that can be loaded include general cargo such as PPE and garments, pharmaceuticals that can be maintained within a temperature range of 15 and 25 degrees Celsius and perishables such as cut flowers, and select dry and non-smelling fruits and vegetables.

Cargo loaded in the passenger cabins would be packaged inside a suitable external container such as a plastic or cardboard box as per regulations.

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Printable version | Jul 5, 2020 6:30:23 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/business/as-covid-19-grounds-fliers-emirates-converts-10-passenger-aircraft-into-mini-freighters/article31947705.ece

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