Coronavirus: Emirates removes seats from 10 aircraft to accommodate high cargo demand

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Dubai-based Emirates airlines removed seats from 10 planes in its fleet to accommodate strong air cargo demand for essential commodities such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, food, and other supplies amid the coronavirus pandemic, the airline said on Thursday.

Emirates SkyCargo will be operating 10 Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with Economy Class seats removed allowing for up to 17 tons or 132 cubic meters of additional cargo capacity per flight on top of the 40-50 ton cargo capacity in the belly hold of the widebody passenger aircraft,” the airline said in its statement.

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The modified aircraft will be 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 that the airline has been working to ramp up its cargo capacity and re-connect is network of more than 85 global destinations since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The modification of the 10 aircraft requires approximately 640 man-hours of work and is being done 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 by the Emirates Engineering team, with three more aircraft due to be ready by mid-July 2020,” the airline said.

Ahmed Safa, Divisional Senior Vice President Emirates Engineering said: “Converting our passenger aircraft to these mini freighters is certainly a sign of the times.”

Earlier in May, Emirates announced that it started loading cargo in the overhead bins and on the seats in the main cabins of some of its passenger aircraft to keep up with the growing demand.

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