Can a passenger airliner run as a freighter with today’s tariffs? Part 4.

By Bjorn Fehrm

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April 23, 2020, © Leeham News: We spent the last weeks checking if passenger airliners used as belly freighters make economic sense.

With the present air freight prices, it does. The high freight prices are a result of half the World's freight capacity disappearing with the grounding of passenger jets.

Our economic analysis assumed standard densities for the belly cargo. What happens if this is no longer the case? Can more voluminous cargo fly in the passenger cabin?

Figure 1. Air Canada Boeing 777 with humanitarian supplies (face masks) transported in the cabin. Source: Air Canada.

  • Widebody aircraft can temporarily fly as belly freighters without loading cargo in the cabin, but enabling cabin cargo will improve the business case with the present lower-density cargo.
  • For single-aisle jets the belly cargo holds are too small, a cabin cargo loading system is necessary for efficient operation.
  • Is it OK to take out the seats and load cargo in the cabin? For normal cargo no, it isn't. We check what is required.

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