Last Thursday the 100th KLM flight flew to Shanghai with cargo on the passenger seats (cargo-in-cabin). The aircraft model used is one of three Boeing 747 Combis that were put into service to create an airlift with China, which is of enormous strategic importance for the Netherlands.
In the last few months, more than 150 enthusiastic KLM employees have worked intensively on the cargo-in-cabin concept (cargo in the cabin or cargo on the passenger seat). The company implemented this concept to transport more than 85 million face masks in the fight against Covid-19.
“The crisis affecting us and the aviation industry is unprecedented and KLM is facing enormous challenges. In my opinion, the cargo-in-cabin concept symbolizes the resilience, creativity and flexibility of our employees who work day in and day out to keep our business model functional. When we parked dozens of planes for weeks and had less capacity as a result, our cargo department did everything it could to meet the growing demand for medical care. In the past few months, tens of millions of products have been safely and efficiently transported on passenger seats. I would like to thank all KLM employees who worked so hard to make this possible, ”said Pieter Elbers, CEO of KLM, who accompanied this extraordinary flight and witnessed the intensive loading and unloading process first hand.
Passenger seat load
What seemed unimaginable at the beginning of the year is now a reality. The first flight with cargo on the passenger seats soared in late April. The additional space is created based on this innovative freight transport concept. What now fits in the cabin is the equivalent of about six large pallets – about 40% of an aircraft’s total cargo capacity. The additional space is used to transport additional medical supplies to the Netherlands.
85 million face masks
There are around seven cargo-in-cabin flights to Shanghai every week. More than 90% of the aircraft’s cargo is made up of face masks. In addition, other medical supplies, including surgical gloves and gowns, will be withdrawn. To date, KLM has transported more than 80,000 boxes and more than 85 million face masks. In addition to your humanitarian contribution, using the cargo-in-cabin concept in times of crisis was the perfect way to generate additional income. It also shows how innovative and flexible KLM Cargo was in this unprecedented crisis.
The 100th cargo-in-cabin flight was certainly not easy to achieve. Teamwork was necessary between highly motivated and enthusiastic colleagues from different departments of KLM and at the locations where it flies in order to further develop and refine the concept. It is now possible to transport more quantities and to load and unload faster, which is particularly important during a storm, for example.
A group of 60 cargo colleagues were trained to work on these flights. They do it voluntarily in combination with their other duties and responsibilities.