MIAMI – As of August 1, 2021, Korean Air (KE) has operated 10,000 cargo-only flights on passenger aircraft. Beginning in March 2020, KE initiated said operations with a route between Incheon (ICN) and Ho Chi Minh City (SGN).

Since then, the airline has transported 400,000 tons of cargo worldwide. These flights have operated on 65 routes, ranging in destinations to North America, Asia, and Europe.

The airline transports around 40 tons of cargo on round each round trip flight, which currently equals over 800 flights per month. In March 2020, KE operated only 38 of these flights.

This increase allows KE to keep pilots, and ground crew employed in a time where the planes may otherwise be grounded with a lack of passenger demand.

Korean Air HL8027 Airbus A330-323. Photo: Nick Sheeder/Airways

Reconfiguring Aircraft for Cargo Operations

Based in Korea’s capital city of Seoul, the nation’s largest carrier has removed seats from passenger planes to allow floor loading of cargo. Also, KE is also utilizing overhead bin space, and a device that can load cargo on passenger seats, known as a “seat bag.”

The Korean flag carrier has stated that they expect these cargo-only passenger flights to play a vital role in the second half of 2021 when cargo demand typically increases.

Featured image: Luca Flores/Airways