Date: 21.04.2022

EU remove ‘preighter’ air capacity

Airlines across the European Union are no longer allowed to pack empty passenger planes with cargo as the aviation sector starts recovering from the pandemic.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is putting a stop to converted ‘preighter’ flights after the 31st of July 2022.

The temporary conversion of passenger aircraft into ‘preighters’ (mash-up of passenger/freighter) to carry cargo in the passenger cabin has been operating since 2020 since EASA issued approvals and exemptions on a case-by-case basis.

These approvals and exemptions were time-limited, and while the EASA extended the rules in August 2021, it will not extend the timeframe further.

EASA statement

“During the peak of the pandemic, when almost all long haul operation had been suspended, there was a need to support the logistic chain with a solution to increase the cargo capacity using passenger aircraft to transport cargo on the main deck.”

“That is no longer the case, however, as airlines rush to build back passenger capacity lost during the pandemic.  Airlines are pressing aircraft back into service, and there is now sufficient cargo capacity in the belly hold of normal passenger services.”

“Following a review of the operational context for transport of cargo in the passenger cabin, the agency has concluded that the logistical challenges that arose in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis no longer exist to the same extent.”

EASA said that in accordance with the guidelines it has determined that the exemptions delivered in this context will not be extended beyond the current validity of the 31st July 2022.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) last year ruled that from January 2022 the passenger cabins of China-registered aircraft would only be able to carry pandemic-related cargo.

Despite the loss of ‘preighter’ capacity, our air freight team will continue to find solutions for urgent and time-sensitive shipments, using a blend of scheduled, dedicated and chartered air cargo services. 

We work closely with our global network to continuously monitor market capacity and service opportunities that might benefit our customers.

Evaluating and blocking space on viable services early, including our sea/air platforms and hub services, is a critical factor in achieving the most demanding deadlines. 

Please call Elliot Carlie for insights and advice on how to move your express time-sensitive products globally.