Combi Aircraft

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Combi Planes

Find out information on combi aircraft, which airlines currently use combi aircraft and which airlines have used them in the past. 

What is a Combi Aircraft?

Crate and seat

A combi aircraft is a plane that has the capability to carry both passengers and cargo, either in separate flights or simultaneously. This is achieved by either having a divide in the cabin that allows passengers in one section and cargo in another or by having removable seats that can transform the plane between from passenger to cargo. 

A combi aircraft is recognisable from the outside by its large aircraft doors, which exist to facilitate the passenger-cargo transformation.

Combi aircraft were particularly popular around the 1970s on routes where there weren't enough passengers flying to fill the aircraft. To make the service financially viable, in addition to passengers, airlines would use the aircraft to carry cargo. However, as the demand for passenger flights has grown, combi aircraft have become less of a necessity. While there are still some airlines that use existing combi aircraft, there are currently none in production.

Combi aircraft Alaska Airlines

Photo Credit: Frank Kovalchek

List of combi aircraft models

Over the years, combi aircraft have been created by many different aircraft manufacturers, including Boeing, McDonnell Douglas, de Havilland and ATR. Airbus has never produced any combi aircraft

Boeing

  • B707-320C
  • B727-100C
  • B727-200
  • B737-200C
  • B737-400C
  • B737-700C
  • B747-200M
  • B747-300M
  • B747-400M
  • B757-200

de Havilland

  • de Havilland Canada DHC-7 (Dash 7)
  • de Havilland Canada DHC-8 (Dash *)

Douglas

  • DC-7C
  • DC-8CF

McDonnell Douglas

  • DC-10-30
  • MD-11

Convair

  • CB-240

ATR

  • ATR 42-300

Fairchild

  • F-27B

Hawker Siddeley

  • HS 748

Lockheed

  • L-188 Electra

Airlines that currently use
Combi aircraft

Below is a list of airlines that are currently using combi aircraft

Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines has long used combi aircraft on flights and is currently the only domestic airline in the US that operates combi flights. Due to Alaska's location, size, climate and the fact that it's so different to everywhere else in the US, a cargo section on the plane has always been a great been of great benefit to them.

Most recently, Alaska Airlines is using the Boeing 737-400 combi, which has the capacity to carry 72 passengers. Passengers board and disembark from the back of the plane, which is where they're seated from row 17 onwards. The front of the plane is reserved for cargo-only.

Canadian North

Canadian North, an airline that focuses on the northwest territories of Canada is a great example of an airline that still uses combi aircraft to make up for the lack of demand for passenger flights on certain routes. 

Canadian North uses both Boeing 737-300 and Boeing 737-200 to operate its flights. These aircraft are customisable, depending on how many passengers are booked and how much cargo needs to be transported.

The Boeing 737-200 can operate using the following formations:

  • 76 seats/ 2 cargo pallets
  •  60 seats/ 3 cargo pallets
  • 34 seats/ 4 cargo pallets
  • 24 seats/ 5 cargo pallets
  • 6 seats/ 6 cargo pallets

The Boeing 737-300 can operate using the following formations:

  • 120 seats/ 0 cargo pallets
  • 80 seats/ 3 cargo pallets

First Air

Much like Canadian North, First Air uses combi aircraft on less-popular routes in the north of Canada. The airline operates combi services with the Boeing 737 400 combi, which has four pallets of cargo in the front and 72 seats for passengers in the back. 

KLM

KLM has been using combi aircraft since 1975 when it took in an order of Boeing 747-200 combi planes. KLM found great use in the combi plane and — by the end of the decade — updated its fleet with Boeing 747-400s, which is the same aircraft that it uses for combi flights today. 

The combi aircraft fly from KLM's hub airport, Amsterdam Schiphol, to various destinations across the world, including to the US, India, Kenya and China.

KLM's combi aircraft are unique in the fact that they have Economy Class, Premium Economy and Business Class seats within the passenger section of the cabin. The aircraft has two decks — the upper deck is exclusively Business Class, whereas the lower deck is a mix of Business Class, Premium Economy, Economy Class and cargo, which is located at the rear of the plane. The aircraft has the capacity to carry up to 268 passengers and 7 pallets. 

 

Airlines that have previously used
Combi aircraft

Air Canada Air France Air Gabon Air India
Air Marshall
Islands
Air North Air Rhodesia Air Vietnam
Alitalia Avianca Braniff
International
CAAC Airlines
Cameroon
Airlines
China Airlines Continental
Micronesia
Eagle Air
El Al Garuda
Indonesia
Iberia Icelandair
Iraqi Airways KLM LAN Chile Lufthansa
MarkAir Northwest
Airlines
Pakistan International
Airlines
Qantas
Royal Brunei
Airlines
Royal Jordanian
Airlines
Sabena South African
Airways
Swissair UTA Varig