KLM operates first cargo-only pax flight

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KLM Royal Dutch Airlines operated its first cargo-only flight with a passenger aircraft on April 30, carrying cargo not only in its belly, but on the passenger seats and in the baggage bins of the aircraft cabin.

Introducing the new cargo carrying concept, KLM operated a B777-300 flight from Shanghai to Amsterdam for the first time.

The load consisted mainly of urgent medical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) including hundreds of thousands of face masks and protective gowns to be used in combating coronavirus.

KLM will be deploying three Boeing 777s to operate Cargo-in-Cabin flights for this new service, with Beijing and Hong Kong to join Shanghai on the list of destinations.

Around 500 packages of equipment can be carried in the cabin on each KLM Boeing 777 flight.

The B747-400 combi flights currently re-entering service on these routes will soon be reconfigured to be similarly deployed. The packages will be bound to the passenger seats and stowed in the baggage bins.

Air France-KLM Cargo Executive Vice President Adriaan den Heijer said, “Developing and implementing this concept is a particularly complex necessity. Safety plays a pivotal role. Each and every package must be bound securely to the seat to ensure it remains in place throughout the flight. But practical matters have to be taken into account too, such as swiftly and safely loading the cabin cargo without damaging the interior. This process is especially labour intensive; current expectations are that this will take at least four hours.”

To ensure that everything goes off smoothly, all of these KLM cargo-only pax flights will be accompanied by a Cargo-in-Cabin Coordinator from KLM Cargo to maintain onsite loading supervision and monitor compliance with the new procedures.

“Cargo-in-Cabin significantly increases capacity. What we can now accommodate in the cabin equates to around six large pallets in the belly or 40 per cent of the total cargo capacity. We can use the added space to our advantage, carrying more urgent medical supplies. Cargo-in-Cabin caters perfectly to the growing demand for such equipment,” explained Den Heijer.

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