After canceling passenger flights owing to COVIS-19 pandemic, SunExpress, a joint venture of Turkish Airlines and Lufthansa will begin cargo flights with 18 aircraft in its fleet without removing passenger seats.
The carrier will begin freighter operations with a new type of cargo-carrying model by utilizing the passenger cabin to maximize the capacity for cargo, a company statement said Monday. The venture expects to be able to carry up to 21,700 tons in each flight by being able to load cargo on passenger seats and overhead bins, in addition to the aircraft's regular cargo section, an airline statement added.
It earlier halted all domestic and international flights as part of the travel restrictions to fight the coronavirus outbreak. SunExpress Deputy General Manager Ahmet Çalışkan said the airline has so far carried cargo in the designated section of the aircraft. "The cargo-only flights will be operated for the first time in the company's history," he said.
“We have made a total of 18 aircraft suitable for cargo use by turning passenger cabins into cargo holds without removing the seats. We completed the necessary work in a short time and will carry out our cargo flights initially from İzmir and Antalya. In the next stages, we plan to operate cargo flights from other destinations based on incoming demand,” Çalışkan added.
Based in the coastal resort of Antalya, the company suspended its flights from Turkey to Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Austria, the U.K., Switzerland and Ireland in line with measures taken by Turkish authorities to protect public health against the coronavirus outbreak.
SunExpress in 2019 achieved the highest revenue in its 30-year history. The firm's revenue increased by 10% in 2019 on a yearly basis by generating a revenue of over 1.4 billion euros and carrying over 10 million passengers with a load factor of 83%.
Founded as a joint venture of Turkish Airlines and Germany's Lufthansa in 1989, SunExpress flies to more than 90 destinations in over 30 countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa.