FRANKFURT, GERMANY — The European Union's civil aviation regulator EASA has issued an amendment to its approval allowing European carriers to transport cargo in empty passenger cabins. 

According to the statement published by the agency, airlines operating in the European Union are no longer allowed to pack empty passenger planes with cargo, as the aviation industry is recovering from the global epidemic.

Since 2020, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency has issued approvals and exemptions for the transport of cargo in passenger cabins on a case-by-case basis. These were time-limited until July 31, 2022. Following a review of the operational context for the transport of cargo in the passenger cabin, the agency has concluded that the logistical challenges that arose in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis no longer exist to the same extent.

The Agency has therefore determined that the exemptions delivered in this context will not be extended beyond the current validity of July 31, 2022.

The temporary exemption allowing so-called ‘preighter service’ – using passenger planes to transport freight – was conducted during the pandemic as countries restricted passenger travel due to the border closures. Instead, governments scrambled to transport medical equipment, including protective masks and other stuff to prevent the pandemic to spread across the globe.

During the pandemic, airlines made decent money on preighter services to meet the increasing demand for air cargo. Many Airlines even removed the seats of their passenger cabins to transport more cargo. a number of its gigantic Airbus A380 planes into so-called ‘mini freighters’, ripping out sections of passenger seats so larger cargo could be loaded.