Korean Air the latest to offer cargo only-PAX flights

By Damian Brett

Korean Air has become the latest carrier to offer up its passenger aircraft for cargo-only operations, joining Scoot and Cathay Pacific.

According to FlightGlobal, the airline said it planned to deploy passenger aircraft that have been idled since February 25 to carry cargo on flights to Qingdao.

The flights will begin on March 21 and it hopes to add new destinations to the operation in the near future.

Parent company Hanjin Group’s chairman, Walter Cho, said that using passenger aircraft would help “overcome the current crisis, as this would cut down expenses and support import and export companies”.

Cho said: “As the Covid-19 situation becomes increasingly dire, it is important for us to take a new perspective when looking at the market.

“If we use the cargo compartment of our parked passenger aircraft, not only can we respond to the changing demand of cargo transport by diversifying our cargo routes, but we can also reduce aircraft parking fees.”

He added: “The business strategies of passenger and cargo should be shifted as the trans-Atlantic [air routes are] now blocked. We must flexibly respond to market demand.”

Last week, Scoot confirmed to Air Cargo News that it would operate “belly-hold freight charters” flights on behalf of parent Singapore Airlines’ cargo arm in March.

The flights will operate from Singapore to Guangzhou and Nanjing utilising Boeing 787-9 aircraft, which offer a cargo capacity of around 54 cubic metres.

Scoot had earlier temporarily suspended all scheduled commercial flights to mainland China until April 25.

The Nanjing and Guangzhou freight charter flights will be operated on a turnaround basis without cabin crew or passengers on board.

In a statement, Cathay Pacific said it was also utilising its passenger aircraft in the same way.

General manager cargo commercial Nelson Chin said: “We have demonstrated our flexibility in deploying capacity in line with customer demand.

“This includes additional freighter deployments above our planned capacity, as well as mounting cargo-only passenger flights to a number of destinations to ensure cargo continues to move during this critical time.”

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