Air Canada has operated its final cargo-in-the-cabin preighter flight and will now return its temporarily converted fleet of B777s and A330s to passenger service.
Flight AC7272, operated with an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, touched down in Toronto from Bogota on May 14.
The A330-300 aircraft will now be reconverted back to passenger service to meet the return of global passenger travel demand.
The carrier has also started taking delivery of fully converted freighter aircraft to meet cargo demand.
Air Canada said this final flight comes more than two years after it “became the first passenger airline globally to go to market removing seats to double cargo capacity by utilising the cabin to load additional cargo”.
That first flight on April 18 2020 was operated with a Boeing 777 that would normally carry more than 400 passengers. Instead, the aircraft cabin was filled with PPE, including face masks, gloves, and gowns for healthcare workers.
Air Canada and Air Canada Cargo rapidly converted into preighters a mix of Boeing 777 and Airbus A330-300 aircraft that would otherwise be parked. In total, 11 aircraft were converted into temporary freighters by removing the passenger seats to enable transport of lightweight cargo in the cabins.
Now with passenger travel demand recovering but cargo demand remaining high, Air Canada Cargo will also utilise a fleet of converted Boeing 767-300 aircraft, two of which are now in service, with six more to come by the end of 2023. Additionally, Air Canada Cargo continues to utilise belly space on Air Canada’s globally scheduled passenger flights.
“Developing and sustaining this solution was an incredible group effort from many departments within Air Canada,” said Dotane Harel, director, regulatory and operations process engineering. “These aircraft have considerably increased Air Canada’s cargo capacity in time of need. It is with mixed emotions that we see this chapter fold, and we’re looking forward to working with our new Boeing 767-300 freighters.”
In April, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it would put a stop to cargo-in-the-cabin flights beyond July 31.