Taiwan's EVA Air has become the latest airline to remove the seats on one of its aircraft to make room for cargo. However, as passenger demand slowly begins to pick up, are EVA Air late to the party?
EVA Air is a member of Star Alliance. Photo by Chris Phan | AeroNewsX
EVA Air is a global airline with its main hub in Taipei, Taiwan. The airline, which is a member of Star Alliance, operates to more than 40 destinations worldwide. According to Skytrax, the airline is 5-star rated. It operates a fleet of more than 70 aircraft.
"In order to do our part, we've removed seats on one of our 777-300ERs to make space for urgent supplies being delivered across the globe! A special thank you to our cargo team since they have made extra effort to carry the goods onboard parcel by parcel," the airline said.
Worth noting is that the cargo sector has not seen an increase in demand, moreover a decrease in capacity largely due to a significant reduction in belly-cargo from passenger aircraft which were taken out of the skies. This comes despite demand doubling when it comes to pharmaceuticals, which makes sense considering the global pandemic.
However, EVA Air's latest announcement might be a bit too late, considering passenger demand is slowly returning - and with that, the return of belly cargo capacity. Eurocontrol reported more than 8000 flights in the skies two days ago - the first time such a number was reached since 20 March.
In China, domestic capacity surged in April in comparison to February as the Chinese aviation industry began to recover. While capacity on the domestic sector was still down 33% year-on-year as of April 22 according to Cirium, in February the figure stood at 71%. In early May, Bloomberg reported that China added an additional 1 million seats to schedules, 800,000 of which was domestically. Throughout the month of May, headlines were made as Chinese carriers began to see load factors return to normal. On May 15, the number of daily flights reached over 10,000 - the first time since 21 February. However, in mid-June, flights from Beijing dropped by approximately 40% as coronavirus cases increased significantly.
While EVA Air's latest announcement might come at a period of recovery, a potential second wave of the coronavirus could render this move more viable. EVA Air isn't the only airline which might be a bit late - Lufthansa Technik in early May said it had secured a contract to temporarily convert 1 Airbus A380 for cargo operations.