Iberia Converts first A330s into Freighter to Adapt to Market

Economic Aviation

The first A330 airliner that Iberia has converted into a freighter has arrived in Los Angeles from Madrid. Until four weekly cargo flights between the two cities have been scheduled for this month.

In the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, Iberia’s flight operations were almost exclusively confined to repatriation flights and flights carrying emergency medical supplies. This experience prepared Iberia to adapt to the new market situation and seize this opportunity.

Iberia’s sales chief María Jesús López Solás said “We’re expecting an increase in air freight demand in coming months and this in an opportunity we should try to seize. Under today’s circumstances we must adapt better than ever to market demands, and this operation will help diversify our income streams while keeping our staff active.”

IAG Cargo, the cargo division of International Airlines Group (IAG), will service these flights. At the start of the pandemic IAG Cargo were quick to develop tailored solutions for its customers cargo needs, including cargo-only flying on passenger aircraft and establishing a new charter team. With a wide network, IAG Cargo offers its services on more than 500 aircraft, to more than 350 destinations.

This first Airbus A330/300 converted into freighter was already undergoing an inspection in Iberia’s Madrid maintenance hangar in La Muñoza, where all Economy, Premium Economy seats and crew rest were removed along with separation panels. Carpeting was reinstalled with lights indicating the 33 cargo positions. Cargo will be held in place with netting fastened to floor rails where the seats were anchored. This configuration yields additional carrying capacity of up to 105 m3 or 18,000 kg. of cargo.

This conversion of the cabin has been carried out by Iberia MRO, which boasts long experience in aircraft retrofit operations and altering cabin configurations. They have followed Airbus guidelines and the cabin conversion has been approved by Spanish Air Safety Agency, AESA.