Air CargoAmerican ShipperNews

Singapore’s Scoot strips seats for cabin cargo

Low-cost passenger airline boosts cargo capabilities in SE Asia

Scoot, the budget carrier of Singapore Airlines Group, has removed the seats from an Airbus A320 aircraft to help meet demand for more cargo capacity and optimize deliveries to smaller airports during the coronavirus pandemic.

The modification is noteworthy because the A320 is a single-aisle aircraft and most passenger planes being operated in cargo-only mode tend to be widebody types that can carry bigger loads on long international routes. It also demonstrates that large airlines aren’t the only ones reconfiguring cabin interiors amid a global shortage of air transport for goods caused by the massive reduction in passenger travel and flights.

In March, Scoot was one of the first airlines in Southeast Asia to start operating belly-hold cargo charters using its twin-aisle Boeing 787-9 aircraft and in May began operating cargo-only flights with A320, often with boxes strapped into the seats. Now it is one of the first in the region to offer cargo charters with modified aircraft. 

Removing seats doubled the A320’s carrying capacity to nearly 20 tons and will allow it to better serve smaller airports, the low-cost airline said this week. The modified passenger freighter made its debut Saturday from Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province in southeast China, to Singapore with 13 tons of general merchandise and has four more flights scheduled this month.

The reconfiguration, which included installation of placards to mark floor-loading zones and extra fire extinguishers, took four days and required approval from Singapore’s aviation authority. Two specially trained crew members will escort the shipments to ensure proper loading and manage any inflight emergencies, such as smoke, fumes or fire.

Another A320 jet is also being reconfigured this week to allow for more cabin cargo, Scoot said. 

Scoot has operated more than 200 cargo charters to and from 10 cities: Fuzhou, Guangzhou, Hangzhou, Kunming, Nanjing, and Wuhan in China; Perth and Sydney, Australia; and Taipei, Taiwan. 

Passenger airlines began shifting aircraft to move essential supplies when the COVID-19 virus outbreak reached critical mass in March. Cargo business offers them a way to keep aircraft and pilots in service that otherwise would be idle and to generate much-needed revenue. Some governments have been faster than others in granting necessary certifications to place shipments in the cabin or make alterations.

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

Related News:

United Airlines surpasses 5,000 cargo-only flights since March

Delta Air Lines’ cabins to go naked

How Air Canada beat U.S. airlines removing seats for cargo

Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at