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Amsterdam, Netherlands - KLM has begun to carry cargo with passenger planes not only in its belly, but on the passenger seats and in the baggage bins of the aircraft cabin.

The airline carried out its first cargo flight with a Boeing 777-300ER on April 30 from Shanghai to Amsterdam with the new cargo-carrying concept. The load consisted mainly of urgent medical supplies, including hundreds of thousands of face masks and protective gowns to be used in combatting coronavirus.

According to the operator, around 500 packages of equipment can be carried in the cabin on each flight. Beijing and Hong Kong will join Shanghai on the list of destinations for this new service. KLM will be deploying three Boeing 777s to operate Cargo-in-Cabin flights.

The retired Boeing 747-400s of the airline will soon be reconfigured and deployed on these routes for airfreight operations.

KLM’s new, albeit temporary cargo carrying concept was developed by a multidisciplinary team within a three-week timeframe.

“Developing and implementing this concept is a particularly complex necessity. Safety plays a pivotal role. Each and every package must be bound securely to the seat to ensure it remains in place throughout the flight. But practical matters have to be taken into account too, such as swiftly and safely loading the cabin cargo without damaging the interior. This process is especially labor-intensive; current expectations are that this will take at least four hours,” 

said Executive Vice President Air France-KLM Cargo Adriaan den Heijer.

"To ensure that everything goes off smoothly, all such flights will be accompanied by a Cargo-in-Cabin Coordinator from KLM Cargo to maintain on-site loading supervision and monitor compliance with the new procedures."

Heijer added.
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