Iberia Airlines announced the launch of its Airbus A330 “preighter”, the company's first passenger to freighter conversion.

Spain's flag carrier completed the conversion by taking away all Economy, Premium Economy seats and crew rest along with separation panels out of its Airbus A330-300. These adjustments resulted in additional carrying capacity of up to 105 m3 or 18,000kg of cargo.

The conversion was carried out by Iberia MRO in Iberia’s Madrid maintenance hangar in La Muñoza, Spain. They installed cargo nets for securing the cargo in flight and lights indicating the 33 cargo positions. Iberia MRO followed Airbus guidelines and the cabin conversion has been approved by Spanish Air Safety Agency, AESA.

“We’re expecting an increase in air freight demand in coming months and this is an opportunity we should try to seize. Under today’s circumstances we must adapt better than ever to market demands, and this operation will help diversify our income streams while keeping our staff active”, said Iberia’s sales chief María Jesús López Solás.

In November 2020, the airline scheduled to operate service four times a week between Los Angeles and Madrid. The flights will be serviced by IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group (IAG) (IAG).

During the first months of the pandemic, Iberia’s operations were concentrated on repatriation flights and flights carrying medical supplies. With its converted “preighter” aircraft, the company might be hoping to jump on the peak cargo season between now and the New Year. 

During the pandemic numerous airlines had the majority of their fleets grounded. They began adjusting some of the passenger aircraft and putting them to use in freight transportation. The term “preighter” describes the phenomenon of a passenger aircraft used for cargo-only operations. Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr coined the term back in May 2020. 

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