Greater weight for freight
Three of the Kazakh carrier Air Astana’s Boeing B767-300ERs have already seen action as only-freighters, carrying goods in their passenger cabins. Now the airline is reacting to rising demand for airfreight services and converting them into full-freighters.
Many airlines have already transformed some of their passenger planes into only-freighters over the past few months. Air Astana, Kazakhstan’s flag carrier, is now going one step further. The 19-year-old airline has announced plans to set up Air Astana Cargo, a separate airfreight division. To this end Air Astana will have three Boeing B767-300ERs, which it has operated as passenger units since 2013, converted into full-freighters.
Restructuring its fleet
The firm said recently that the decision to establish Air Astana Cargo was also partially taken in the light of the latest industry developments, triggered by reactions to the outbreak of Covid-19. Demand for airfreight services has risen strongly, which has, in turn, prompted the strategic reorientation of the airline’s plans for its fleet.
Six years ago, Air Astana took delivery of its last Boeing B767-300ER, built as a passenger unit. Since then this model has only been manufactured as a freighter and for military purposes. Now the units in Air Astana’s fleet will also adhere to this freight use. Their seats and other passenger equipment will be removed soon in the airline’s technology centre in Almaty. The corporation will organise all the necessary papers for cargo operations and make sure it has completed the requisite official authorisation procedures.
Over the past few weeks Air Astana has already deployed un-reconfigured 767s to transport goods – but faced several challenges in the process, as freight director Zhanna Shayakhmetova explained. “The European Air Safety Agency’s strict regulations place a limit on the amount and size of cargo that an airline may transport on a unit’s passenger seats.”
Deploying newly-reconfigured B767-300ERs will allow the airline to significantly increase its overall freight volumes and to provide its customers with a greater range of options.