100th KLM Cargo-in-Cabin flight takes place

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In recent months, more than 150 KLM employees have worked hard on the airline’s Cargo-in-Cabin concept. KLM has deployed this innovative, forward-looking cargo concept to transport more than 85 million face masks in the fight against COVID-19.

Last Thursday, the 100th Cargo-in-Cabin flight departed for Shanghai, accompanied by Pieter Elbers, KLM president and CEO. The aircraft deployed is one of three Boeing 747 Combi aircraft taken into operation to establish an air bridge with China, which is of enormous strategic importance to the Netherlands.

What may have been inconceivable at the start of the year is now a reality. The first Cargo-in-Cabin flight took to the skies at the end of April. Extra space is created based on this innovative cargo carrying concept. What now fits into the cabin corresponds roughly with six large pallets – roughly 40% of the aircraft’s total cargo capacity. The extra space is being used to carry additional medical supplies to the Netherlands.

Face masks

Each week, around seven Cargo-in-Cabin flights depart for Shanghai. More than 90% of the aircraft’s load consists of face masks. Additionally, other medical supplies including surgical gloves and gowns are carried back. In total, KLM has so far carried more than 80,000 boxes and more than 85 million face masks. Aside from its humanitarian contribution, harnessing the Cargo-in-Cabin concept during a time of crisis has been the perfect way to generate extra income. It also serves to illustrate just how innovative and flexible KLM Cargo has been during this unprecedented crisis.

A pool of 60 cargo colleagues have been trained to work on these flights. They carry out these tasks voluntarily in combination with their other duties and responsibilities. After the call was issued by Inflight Services and Flight Operations, numerous colleagues expressed an interest in becoming Cargo-in-Cabin coordinators since they were temporarily idle because of the crisis. This made it possible to scale up the number of Cargo-in-Cabin flights, bringing the number of flights operated so far to 100.

Elbers said: “The crisis impacting us and the aviation sector is unparalleled and KLM is facing enormous challenges. In my opinion, the Cargo-in-Cabin concept symbolises the resilience, creativity and flexibility of our employees, who work day in, day out to keep our business running. When we had dozens of aircraft parked for weeks on end and less capacity as a result, our cargo division pulled out all the stops to meet the rapidly growing demand for medical supplies. Tens of millions of products have been transported safely and efficiently on passenger seats in recent months. I would like to thank all the KLM employees who worked so hard to make this possible!”