As airlines suffer deep losses from coronavirus closures and travel bans, the freight forwarding and logistics provider Kuehne+Nagel has launched a plan to help them recover faster by converting airplanes from carrying passengers to hauling freight, the company said this week.
Kuehne+Nagel has developed KN InteriorChain, an end-to-end logistics solution to support the conversion from passenger to freighter (P2F) aircraft. That approach is necessary because much of the world’s air cargo flies in the “belly space” of passenger jets, loaded below the seats of paying travelers. As travel demand has evaporated, thousands of those planes are now grounded for economic reasons, removing all that freight capacity.
At the same time, logistics providers see a rising demand for air freight due to jumps in e-commerce activity during pandemic lockdowns and to shopping peaks like Amazon’s Prime Day, Alibaba’s Singles Day, and the looming winter holiday season.
That growth of air cargo implies a need for more than 1,500 aircraft to be converted from passengers to freighters, an engineering challenge that requires a number of complex structural modifications of the aircraft, Kuehne+Nagel said. For example, each plane must install a main deck cargo door, remove passenger amenities, and install a floor grid and freighter floor panels to handle the increased weight.
The company says its approach reduces the overall costs while eliminating complexity with a single point of control that handles the end-to-end material flow, in line with layover schedules and manufacture serial number (MSN) sequence. The solution includes digitized ordering and supplier management, proactive multimodal transportation management, customs, warehousing, and end of life solutions.
"Since the outbreak of the pandemic, Kuehne+Nagel has proven its agility to adapt to changing market requirements quickly,” Erik Goedhart, senior vice president, global head of aerospace, at Kuehne+Nagel, said in a release. “With the new P2F aircraft conversion program, we now offer a reliable end-to-send solution to manage conversions of retired passenger aircraft into a long-lasting freighter, so our customers can scale up their operations, reduce costs, and boost cargo capacity.”
With the increasing demand for air freight transportation and worldwide grounding of passenger planes due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Kuehne+Nagel has tuned its proven KN InteriorChain solution to facilitate passenger to freighter aircraft (so-called P2F) conversions. A truly e ... pic.twitter.com/2558H6ACcb— Kuehne+Nagel (@Kuehne_Nagel) December 2, 2020