SAS turns to cargo flights using idled passenger planes

FILE PHOTO: A Scaninavian Airlines (SAS) plane is parked on the tarmac of Landvetter airport outside Goteborg, Sweden March 7, 2006..

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - SAS SAS.ST said on Monday it was eyeing more cargo flights using regular passenger aircraft after its first such journey, from Stockholm to Chicago, in co-operation with a Danish logistics firm.

The passenger travel industry has been brought to its knees by the coronavirus pandemic and SAS is the latest in a string of airlines around the world to offer cargo charter on passenger planes to boost revenue.

A SAS group spokeswoman said the Chicago flight carried mainly medical gear, medicines and temperature-sensitive goods.

“This was the first such flight,” she said. “We have other queries about this as well and are looking at it.”

Around half the world’s air cargo normally travels in passenger planes rather than dedicated freighters, so the cancellation of passenger flights has led to a sharp reduction in cargo capacity.

“SAS is currently getting a lot of inquiries about ad-hoc flights for passengers and cargo. We are looking at these requests and prioritising the traffic that is most needed to support both our society and our customers,” SAS Cargo CEO Leif Rasmussen said in a statement from Scan Global Logistics.

SAS intercontinental passenger flights can normally carry 20 tonnes of cargo while without passengers, they can carry 30 tonnes of cargo, the SAS spokeswoman said.

Reporting by Anna Ringstrom and Emelia Sithole-Matarise; editing by Nick Macfie