Kuwaiti budget carrier Jazeera Airways yesterday announced that it ran its first all-cargo flight to and from Riyadh (Saudi Arabia). This move follows many other airlines as they make the most of their unused passenger aircraft amidst the global drop in passenger volume.
“In this challenging business environment, we have adapted quickly to focus on cargo opportunities. We are pleased to be able to serve companies and institutions with our cargo services, ensuring vital food and other supplies are brought into Kuwait.’’ -Rohit Ramachandran, Chief Executive Officer, Jazeera Airways
The flight took on the number J93221 and departed Kuwait at 16:19 local time, arriving in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh at 17:07. The total flight time was just 48 minutes and utilized an Airbus A320 – one of 14 belonging to the Jazeera Airways fleet.
This particular journey flight was an all-cargo flight, which comes as part of the airline’s efforts to grow its cargo capability during the COVID-19 shutdown of commercial passenger operations. In fact, the country of Kuwait has restricted air travel to a few passenger airlines with the aim of transporting foreigners (non-Kuwaiti-citizens) out of the country.
Regulatory approvals required
As you can see from the photo provided by the airline, seats were not removed from the aircraft. Rather, the cargo was placed on seating and secured using cargo netting. Unlike other airline-cargo-conversions made public, there was no explicit mention of medical supplies.
“There are normal goods from companies from both countries. Trying to ensure businesses keep moving in these times,” a Jazeera Airways spokesperson told Simple Flying.
Jazeera Airways’ entire fleet of 14 A320 aircraft are available for cargo-only flights. These narrowbody jets have a capacity of 15 tons per aircraft, within a range of six hours flying time out of Kuwait.
The ability to transport cargo in the main passenger cabin actually required approval from Kuwait’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation. Furthermore, the airline states that destination airports would also require regulatory approvals from the host country to accept the flight.
Many more airlines doing the same
Jazeera joins a whole host of other airlines in using passenger aircraft – and their passenger cabins – for cargo operations.
Air Canada has gone to the extreme with its passenger-cargo conversion. The airline has wholly removed the seats from some of its long-range widebody Boeing 777-300ER jets. In addition to this, cargo netting has been put in place to secure goods in-flight.
Most other airlines have kept their passenger seating bolted down and in-place. This includes Irish carrier Aer Lingus, and Finnish airline Finnair. Aer Lingus is making use of special bags to more effectively move items in and out.
Outside of a global pandemic, numerous flights are running daily between Kuwait and Riyadh – this is due to the close political, economic, and cultural ties between Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. During this current crisis, it is likely that this is the first several cargo-only flights operated by Jazeera Airways.
Do you think airlines should go through the trouble of removing seats for these operations? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.