Ukraine’s SkyUp Airlines is to add dedicated cargo services to its activities in addition to the transportation of passengers. Accordingly, the company has applied for and received all the necessary licences and permits and is in the process of reconfiguring seven passenger aircraft from its fleet of 11 Boeing 737NGs.
The company, which completed some 50 of its first cargo flights in March and April of this year, has been transporting mainly medical supplies equipment and is now also planning to operate general cargo flights even after the renewal of passenger services at the end of the quarantine lockdowns.
The Kyiv-based private hybrid airline insists that the implementation of freight services as part of its business activity was planned before the Coronavirus pandemic. However, the introduction of quarantine measures on a global scale, as well as the subsequent crisis in the passenger air transportation market, has added further impetus to the development of the new direction in the airline’s business portfolio.
In late March, the State Aviation Administration of Ukraine approved SkyUp’s expansion of the range of its economic activities to include the “transportation of passengers and dangerous goods by air.”
As part of its preparations for the launch of its cargo product, SkyUp created a specific new department and a team of professionals to cover sales, organisation and maintenance of cargo transportation at airports.
The transportation of goods and the corresponding reconfiguration of the carrier’s aircraft with the partial removal of the seat-blocks, was made in accordance with the requirements of local authorities as well as by the aircraft manufacturer of SkyUp’s 11 Boeing 737NG aircraft.
As of now, seven aircraft have been reconfigured, including four Boeing 737-800s and three Boeing 737-900s. Another two are due to be refitted shortly.
Currently, the majority of the cargo flights are to and from China and on to Europe. But the airline says there are no country restrictions for future cargo services.
When the spread of the global COVID-19 pandemic eventually allows the air transport industry to get back to normal, SkyUp plans to stay in the airfreight transportation business by combining passenger transportation with the transportation of goods, in particular in the belly-hold baggage compartments of aircraft when performing regular passenger flights.
“The Coronavirus pandemic has caused serious damage to the aviation industry. But we do not give up and we do not stop. Passenger transportation remains a priority for the airline but, until the resumption of passenger flights, we need to make sure that the company continues to operate,” says Yevheny Khaynatsky, the airline’s chief executive.
“It is [also] important for us that [our] aviation personnel maintain their qualifications and that aircraft sustain their airworthiness. I am sure that after the crisis, we will come out more hardened and stronger in order to continue to fulfil the mission we set two years ago: to open the world to Ukrainians, and Ukraine to the world,” he adds.
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