VIENNA, AUSTRIAAfter 15 months, Austrian Airlines is ending its “Preighter” operations. This term represents a mixture of the words "Passenger and Freighter" and used for passenger planes temporarily converted to cargo planes.

Since March 2020, long-haul passenger aircraft have regularly operated as freighter-only aircraft between Asia and Europe. Two Boeing 777s registered OE-LPA and OE-LPC with removed passenger seats and thus increased cargo capacity formed the backbone of the cargo operation.

The Boeing 767 fleet also carried out cargo-only operations. On a total of 159 flights, Austria's home carrier transported 4,500 tons of relief supplies to Europe in the fight against the Corona pandemic. The cargo included 200 million protective masks, 30 million test kits, and more than 15 million medical gloves. The goods were flown not only to Austria but also to Germany and Italy.

“With our freighter-only operation, we responded flexibly to the requirements of the Corona pandemic. There was a great demand for relief goods from Asia – we brought them to Europe. This shows how important a domestic airline with a long-haul fleet is for Austria. I am very proud of our team, which carried out this demanding mission efficiently and smoothly”, says Austrian Airlines COO Francesco Sciortino.

The OE-LPA will now be the last aircraft to get its cabin seats back, which is done in the Austrian Airlines technical department. From July, the aircraft will again operate regular passenger flights – to North America, among other destinations. Austrian Airlines is thus once again concentrating fully on its core business of passenger flights on long-haul routes.

The removal and reinstallation of the passenger seats on the two Boeing 777s took around 1,000 working hours per aircraft. The cargo capacity of the aircraft thus increased by over 35 percent – from around 160 m3 to up to 220 m3.