Air Canada captain Andrew Kawa is used to flying hundreds of people around the globe, but thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, he’s now moving freight in a converted passenger plane.
Kawa spoke to 1 NEWS at Auckland Airport, as he prepared to take a load of car parts, mail, produce and pets to Toronto.
The airline had largely cleared the passenger deck on the Boeing 777-300 of seats – leaving business class intact – to allow more room for cargo.
“It’s like a big dance hall with stuff in the middle,” Kawa said while on board his plane.
“It’s very different. This plane normally holds 450 people. Not more than a year ago I was flying this plane and it was jam packed. It’s a bit strange now.”
He said there is little different about flying cargo to passengers, other than he might take the “smoothest ride” when carrying humans.
“Freight doesn’t really care, unless you’re taking live animals. We’re trying to get the most direct and most efficient route, as opposed for looking for the smoothest ride possible for passengers.”
Cargo on the passenger deck has to be spread around as the floor is only rated for around 20kg per square foot, while the underbelly cargo section can hold up to 120kg per square foot.
Kawa said it is a “bit depressing” walking through empty terminals, flying planes with as few as 40 people on board, and having colleagues either laid off or sitting idle.
With 32 years in the industry, and having got through SARS and 9/11, he said he is confident air travel will get back to what it once was again.