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Airlines begin pulling passenger seats to make room for cargo

With a global shortage of air cargo space and extraordinary demand to move emergency medical supplies, some overseas passenger airlines are taking out the seats on aircraft to make more room for freight.

And U.S. airlines are asking the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for permission to fly cargo in the main deck where passengers normally sit, including the option of removing seats, an industry source familiar with the regulatory situation said.

A decision on basic main-deck loading is expected very soon. FAA sign-off for more complex modifications could take a couple weeks longer, the person said, adding “the exact framework for seat loading under U.S. regulations is not yet fully elaborated.” 

Almost every domestic airline is interested in using the cabin for cargo in some form, according to the source.

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