Just days after suddenly retiring its entire 747-400 fleet a year ahead of schedule, KLM has backtracked and restored two specially-configured 747-400s to service.
KLM operated a subfleet of 747-400M or 747-400 Combi aircraft. Unlike traditional passenger configurations, these aircraft featured a huge cargo door on the main deck and the rear half of the economy class cabin was closed off and designated as an additional cargo hold. With a capacity for only 268 passengers (versus 408 in KLM’s all-passenger 747-400), the specially-configured aircraft allowed the airline to smartly serve more cargo-centric destinations.
With China now pumping out medical supplies to address the current pandemic, KLM is teaming up with Philips, a Dutch company based in Amsterdam, to deliver vital medical supplies to Holland and other European countries. With a shortage of cargo aircraft, the 747s are being brought back into service.
Note the announcement above – KLM says these 747 Combis will “temporarily” take to the skies again. Furthermore, these will be exclusively cargo flights; no passenger tickets will be sold.
KLM will create an “air bridge” between China and Amsterdam in the coming weeks, with three flights per week to Shanghai and two per week to Beijing. Combined, these flights will add an extra 250 tonnes of cargo capacity each week.
While it’s a shame the 747-400 won’t return for passenger service (at least not yet), it will be great to see the Queen back in the skies again donning the beautiful blue KLM livery.