Emirates Adds 10 Boeing 777s To SkyCargo Fleet

The Dubai-based airline, Emirates, is joining other airlines around the world in modifying its passenger aircraft to accommodate greater volumes of cargo. This won’t be anything Earth-shattering to many who have been following the latest news on our website, as we have already seen carriers like Air Canada, Finnair, British Airways, and more, conduct similar modifications.

Emirates 777-300er
Emirates is joining other airlines by removing seats from its aircraft to carry more cargo. The airline will leave business and first class cabins intact. Photo: Emirates

“Now, with the Emirates Boeing 777-300ER aircraft with modified Economy Class cabins, we will be able to transport even more cargo per flight, allowing for more cargo to reach their destination faster and for more efficient cargo operations.” -Nabil Sultan, Emirates Divisional Senior Vice President, Cargo

Modifying the Boeing 777-300ER

Emirates is introducing additional cargo capacity by modifying some of its Boeing 777-300ER aircraft. To do this, seats have been removed from the economy class cabin. The airline has good reason for this, saying,

“The measure has been introduced in response to the strong air cargo market demand for the rapid, reliable and efficient transportation of essential commodities such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), pharmaceuticals, medical equipment, food, machinery and other supplies around the world.”

The aircraft’s business class and first class cabins will remain in-place.

The aircraft will be operated by Emirates’ cargo division: Emirates SkyCargo. For now, a total of 10 Boeing 777-300ERs will have their economy seating removed to allow for 17 tonnes or 132 cubic metres of additional cargo capacity per flight on top. This is in addition to the 40-50 tonne cargo capacity in the belly hold.

The airline says that these modified 777-300ERs will be deployed on “routes to key production and consumer markets where Emirates SkyCargo sees maximum demand for movement of urgently required goods.”

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No small task

The modification of the economy class cabins is taking place at Emirates’ engineering facilities in Dubai. With 305 economy seats needing removal, the airline says that each aircraft requires close to 640 man-hours of work for the modification. With 10 aircraft being modified, this would be 6,400 man-hours of labor.

Beyond seat removal, workers must install safety equipment and implement regular load-bearing tests during the process.

So far, seven aircraft have already been modified by the Emirates Engineering team. The remaining three aircraft are due to be ready by mid-July 2020.

Emirates 777-300er
Emirates is converting 10 777-300ER aircraft. Photo: Emirates

“Converting our passenger aircraft to these mini freighters is certainly a sign of the times. Our teams have shown resilience, an innovative spirit, and adapted quickly to the needs of the changing business environment.” – Ahmed Safa, Divisional Senior Vice President Emirates Engineering

Carrying precious cargo

Emirates SkyCargo has implemented strict rules on the type of cargo that can be loaded inside the modified Economy Class cabins. Types of cargo being carried include:

  • PPE and garments,
  • Pharmaceuticals that can be maintained within a temperature range of 15 and 25 degrees Celsius,
  • Perishables such as cut flowers,
  • Select dry and non-smelling fruits and vegetables.

Cargo loaded in the passenger cabins will first be contained in plastic or cardboard boxes in accordance with the latest regulations outlined by IATA.

As we’ve seen with many of these passenger-cabin conversions, loading and unloading is mostly done with a crew of workers passing boxes by hand.

What do you think of Emirate’s latest cargo initiative? Should this have been done earlier as we saw with other airlines? Let us know in the comments.