Asiana Airlines Creates Makeshift Airbus A350 Freighter

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South Korea’s Asiana Airlines has created a makeshift Airbus A350-900 freighter to commence cargo flights. Work on one of its 11 Airbus A350-900 aircraft involved removing 283 economy class seats and the addition of a steel panel on the floor.

Asiana Airlines A350
Asiana Airlines currently has 11 Airbus A350-900s. Photo: Airbus

By removing the economy class seating, the A350-900 can now carry a further five tons of cargo. The airline said it decided to fit out the plane for cargo to boost profitability during the current crisis, which has seen its passenger numbers decline steeply.

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28 business class seats remain on the plane

With the modifications to the nearly new A350-900, including taking out the seats, its cargo load has been increased to 23 tons. According to SeatGuru, Asiana Airlines’ Airbus A350-900s have 283 economy seats and 28 lie-flat seats in business class. It would appear that the business class seats will remain on the aircraft.

Asiana Airlines claims that this is the first time an Airbus A350-900 has been converted to carry more cargo. While undertaking the work, Asiana Airlines worked closely with Airbus and has had the modifications certified by the European Aviation Safety Administration (EASA).

Airbus A350 without seats
Asiana Airlines worked closely with Airbus on the A350 conversion. Photo: Airbus

In a statement about the conversion Airbus said,

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“We congratulate Asiana Airlines on becoming the first operator to convert an A350 using Airbus’ solution. During these challenging times we are heartened to see our airline partners move nimbly to address their needs. Airbus remains committed to support our airline partners by providing solutions to their new needs”

The modified jet made its first flight between Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (ICN) and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in the United States on 23 September. According to Asiana Airlines, the plane was carrying 20 tons of IT and electrical parts. Along with the Airbus A350-900, Asiana Airlines says it has undertaken a similar conversion with two Boeing 777-200ERs, allowing them to carry cargo in the passenger cabin.

Asiana Airlines made a second-quarter profit

During the current medical emergency, airlines worldwide have had to reach out to governments for financial aid. While Asiana Airlines has not been immune, the carrying of South Korean-made goods to other parts of the world has been a bright spot.

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In August, the Star Alliance member reported that transporting freight had allowed it to post a second-quarter operating profit of W115 billion ($140 million). This is quite amazing, given the circumstances, and the fact that for the same period in 2019, Asiana Airlines reported a loss of W107 billion ($92 million).

asiana airlines A350
Asiana Airlines has been doing well shipping cargo. Photo: Nick Marconi via Flickr

Regarding the possibility of converting more Airbus A350-900s, Asiana Airlines has 11 of the type in its fleet. They have an average age of 2.2 years. It also has a further two on order with the European planemaker, according to Planespotters.net.

Asiana Airlines will take people on scenic flights

In other Asiana Airlines news, the Korean 5-star rated airline has decided to join the growing trend of operating flights to nowhere. Using one of it’s six parked Airbus A380s, Asiana Airlines will offer scenic flights over South Korea that take in views of famous landmarks and the popular holiday destination Jeju Island. The two scenic flights to nowhere will last for two hours and occur on the weekend of the 24th and 25th of October.

Given that South Korea exports so many electronics and car parts, it’s no wonder its airline has found a way to make money during these difficult times.

Do you think Asiana Airlines will convert more of its A350-900s? Please tell us what you think in the comments.

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