For the first time, Korean Air has deployed a Boeing 777-300ER aircraft reconfigured for cargo route operations.
The flight KE9037 left Seoul at 10 p.m. on September 8 and arrived at Rickenbacker International Airport, Columbus, Ohio, at 10 p.m. the same day.
Columbus, Ohio is an emerging cargo base with distribution centres for American clothing and logistics companies. Numerous global airlines are competing to secure demand for air cargo to and from Columbus. Korean Air is meeting the demand for items such as automobile parts, electronic devices and garments.
A Boeing 777-300ER passenger aircraft can carry approximately 22 tons of cargo in cargo belly space. With the removal of passenger seats in the cabin (42 prestige seats, 227 economy seats), the converted aircraft can load additional 10.8 tons of cargo.
Modification of the aircraft to load cargo in the cabin requires a high level of technical review and competency. It’s not just about taking out passenger seats, but also about removing complicated in-flight electrical wiring and installing standardized locks on the floor to keep cargo secured.
Korean Air has been flexibly responding to meet market cargo demand by actively using the belly space of its grounded passenger aircraft such as Boeing 777-300, Boeing 787-9 and Airbus 330-300. From April to September 2020, an average of 420 cargo-only flights a month were operated on passenger aircraft, with the average monthly transport volume reaching 12,000 tons.