Shandong Airlines looks to ease supply shortages by converting passenger planes

(| Updated : 2020-04-22

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Shandong Airlines recently transformed three of its narrow body aircraft-Boeing 737-800s-into freighter planes by removing the seats, in an attempt to ease supply shortages amid the epidemic.

China's international passenger flight sector is facing unprecedented challenges in the face of travel restrictions imposed around the world due to the ongoing pandemic.

About 70 percent of flights were canceled in the first quarter of the year, and the industry suffered cumulative losses of 39.82 billion yuan ($5.62 billion), according to data from the Civil Aviation Administration of China.

Conversely, the demand for cargo flights has been on the rise, which is why Shandong decided to convert its planes.

The move will boost freight transportation capacity, provide strong support for international logistics, and help airlines stem financial losses.

The cargo-only flights can carry up to 20 metric tons of freight, three times more than before, said Pan Xiao, deputy general manager of the freight department of Shandong Airlines.

After being refitted, the three planes will be used to deliver medical emergency supplies, daily necessities and express mail, and will provide crucial support to the international prevention and control of novel coronavirus pneumonia. 


Workers remove seats on a Boeing 737-800 operated by Shandong Airlines, turning it into a freight plane, on April 16. [Photo by Cui Jinan/]


Seats are removed from a passenger flight operated by Shandong Airlines. [Photo by Cui Jinan/]


A Boeing 737-800 aircraft is refitted into a freighter plane to ease supply shortages amid the epidemic. [Photo by Cui Jinan/]