Earlier this month, Icelandair joined the ranks of commercial airlines beginning to move cargo with passenger planes. To make this change of operations as successful as possible, Icelandair has undertaken a swift conversion of the cabin space, removing passenger seats to make way for boxes. The airline shared the haunting images of this process taking place with Simple Flying. Here’s how it’s done.
Passenger to cargo
Last month we reported how Icelandair was undertaking a passenger to cargo conversion for three of its Boeing 767 aircraft. With demand for cargo transport soaring and little in the way of passenger service requirements, Icelandair is following in the footsteps of a number of other carriers in using passenger aircraft to move goods around the world.
While some airlines have developed intuitive methods of moving cargo in the passenger cabin, others – like Icelandair – are taking a more pragmatic approach. With demand for passenger travel predicted to take some time to recover, Icelandair figured a more permanent approach would be better for its load-shifting needs.
The airline has stripped three of its 767s of their passenger seats, in order to make more room for cargo and to make loading and unloading easier. It is working with a German company, DB Schenker, to conduct cargo flights between Shanghai and Munich. Some will also be flown between Shanghai and Chicago via Reykjavik.
While many of these flights will carry medical aid and equipment for healthcare workers, some will also ferry fresh seafood. Icelandair shared with Simple Flying some haunting images of their passenger planes stripped bare.
The 767 conversion
Icelandair has four Boeing 767 widebodies in its fleet, all named after volcanoes in Iceland. The average age of the fleet is 21.4 years, and all but one is owned by the airline. TF-ISN, Svörtuborgir, is on lease, and it’s unlikely that the lessor would take kindly to the seats being removed!
Therefore it’s the other three Boeing 767s that have been converted. TF-ISO – Hlöðufell, TF-ISP – Eldgjá, and TF-ISW – Gullborg have all undergone the conversion to remove their passenger seats and become fully-fledged cargo aircraft, temporarily at least.
To make the conversion, Icelandair carefully covered the passenger seats with polythene to protect them from dust and damage. The rows were removed from front to back, starting with the middle seats.
Seat tracks and electrical connections were all carefully removed too, leaving Icelandair with a smooth, safe expanse of cabin floor for goods. You can watch the process in its entirety in the short video below:
Travel is sadly at a standstill. Some planes are carrying a new form of passenger: medical supplies & fresh seafood. We can’t wait to put our seats back in place to welcome you on board, when the time is right. Watch how a plane is stripped of its seats to make room for cargo: pic.twitter.com/C6BnD7vRvG
— Icelandair (@Icelandair) May 12, 2020
Since undergoing their conversions in early May, all three 767s have been busy. TF-ISO has been flying a triangular route between Nanjing (NKG), Munich (MUC) and Reykjavik (KEF). It is today on its way back to Reykjavik, due to land in under an hour. TF-ISP has been operating largely the same route, while TF-ISW is flying between KEF, MUC and Shanghai (PVG).
Keeping all the passenger seats and peripherals in tip-top condition and well-organized means Icelandair will be able to reinstall them without worry when the time is right.
Have you flown on Icelandair’s 767s? Are you shocked to see them like this? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.