Airlines ‘survive’ by carrying goods

Airlines 'survive' by carrying goods 4

The seats, along with the luggage compartment, were loaded with medical supplies.

It’s one of the vivid examples of how the pandemic radically changed the way the airline industry operates.

But that changed in March 2020, when thousands of flights were canceled because of Covid-19.

`Cargo helps planes take off and gives us hope to overcome difficulties, instead of having to sit on the ground,` said Dominic Kennedy – Virgin’s head of cargo operations.

Cargo is packed into the passenger cabin of an airplane.

Before that, Virgin had never used passenger aircraft to conduct purely cargo flights.

In the US, one of the three largest airlines began operating cargo-only flights in March 2020.

Even Lufthansa (Germany), which has long separated its cargo and passenger operations, is now taking advantage of the opportunity by converting its Airbus A330 passenger planes to carry cargo.

The goods that people and businesses ship by air change with the seasons, but they are often expensive, perishable, urgently needed, or some combination of the above.

Masks, gloves, ventilators and the like `generate the highest demand for large volumes of goods, but it cannot be said that other products and goods no longer need to be transported,` Harald Gloy

Typically, about half of all air freight is operated by companies like UPS, FedEx, and DHL.

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the reduction of most flights worldwide in March reduced air cargo volumes by 23%.

The gap between supply and demand, coupled with falling jet fuel prices, has caught the attention of airline executives.

Worldwide, the average price to ship a kilogram of goods by air was $3.63 last month, up 65% from March 2020, according to WorldACD, a data provider that aggregates freight data.

Freight prices from Asia have skyrocketed, driven by demand for medical supplies produced in factories there, according to WorldACD.

Until then, though, passenger airlines will continue to provide cargo flights and IATA is calling on governments globally to help more.

In the US, airlines like Lufthansa are slow to use passenger cabins to transport cargo, as they await approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.

Airlines 'survive' by carrying goods

Cargo is transported out of the passenger cabin of a Lufthansa aircraft.

At Lufthansa, each cargo flight has three flight attendants on board, compared with 15 on passenger flights.

However, converting passenger aircraft to transport goods is not easy.

`Clearly, this is not only economically unsustainable, but also technically and operationally,` commented Harald Gloy.

`Lack of capacity is a temporary problem. The crisis will impact the transport of goods by air to the same extent as other sectors,` said Mr. Alexandre de Juniac.

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