Icelandair To Convert 3 Boeing 767s Into Cargo Planes

Icelandair Group, the legal parent company to Icelandair, will reconfigure three Boeing 767s to transport cargo. FlightGlobal reports that the decision comes after the company made an agreement to operate freight flights between China and Germany.

Icelandair 767
Icelandair has four 767s in its fleet. Photo: Valentin Hintikka via Flickr

Partnering with a German firm

Icelandair Group has entered into an agreement with the German firm DB Schenker, a division of rail operator Deutsche Bahn. This agreement covers at least 45 cargo flights from Shanghai to Munich. However, as previously reported, services will also be conducted from Shanghai via Rekjavik to Chicago.

FlightGlobal adds that Icelandair Group subsidiaries Icelandair Cargo and Loftleidir Icelandic will carry out the preparation and operation of these freight flights.

Icelandair 767
Icelandair is taking its Boeing 767 to Shanghai. Photo: Getty Images

The airline group will remove the passenger seating on its 767s in order to allow for greater volume and greater ease of loading/unloading the cargo. Cargo mainly consists of medical equipment for healthcare providers.

“The parties have already agreed to continue with additional flights to China as long as needed,” -Icelandair Group

Icelandair’s 767s

Icelandair has just four Boeing 767-300ERs in its fleet. Two of which were previously noted as parked. The aircraft would normally be capable of carrying a full load of 259 passengers – 25 in its Saga business class and the remaining 234 in economy.

All four aircraft originally went from the Boeing factory to Air New Zealand. However, these jets have also flown for airlines like Kenya Airways, Air India, and failed Russian airline Transaero.

The 767s were introduced in 2016 to compliment the airline’s 757 fleet of aircraft. Icelandair currently has 25 of these narrowbody jets.

Icelandair 757
Icelandair’s 757s are normally the workhorse of the Icelandair fleet. These have been slated to be replaced by the Boeing 737 MAX. Photo: Getty Images

A rise in cargo demand

Icelandair is responding to the steady rise in demand for cargo flights. The reason for this rise is two-fold. Firstly, urgent medical supplies are needed around the world – much of this is manufactured in China. Secondly, as global passenger flights have decreased, so has the capacity for cargo transport that these aircraft would normally provide.

“One of the key strengths of Icelandair Group is the flexibility to be able to respond quickly to opportunities and execute them in a short period of time,” -Bogi Nils Bogason, Chief executive

The rise in global demand is so great that even once suspended airlines are coming back. We are seeing this with CargoLogicAir as it has recently reactivated its Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and Operator’s Licence (OL). The UK-based airline will now employ its two 747-400 freighters to deliver vital medical supplies for the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS).

Icelandair joins other airlines in converting their passenger aircraft into freighters through the removal of passenger seating. Air Canada has converted some of its Boeing 777-300ER fleet for cargo by removing seats. Lufthansa is doing the same for some of its Airbus A330s.

What do you think of Icelandair’s pivot to cargo operations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!