PortandTerminal.com, April 17, 2020
NEW YORK – The airlines are getting crushed. There are approximately 27,000 passenger airplanes in the world and almost no one is flying in them right now – 16,000 have already been grounded.
Global airline passenger traffic will fall 48% for the year amid the near-halt to travel from the coronavirus pandemic according to Forbes.
That’s old news now.
What’s new is the speed at which airlines are converting passenger planes to carry cargo to try and generate some much-needed revenue. Even Maersk, the world’s largest shipping line recently launched an air cargo service.
Passengers may not be flying, but the need to ship cargo from point A point B has never been greater.
Money to be made
There is a massive, global scramble to quickly get PPE and other medical supples to where it is needed most. That urgency is boosting airfreight levels to unseen heights.
But it’s not just medical supplies that airplanes are carrying as cargo. Fruit and vegetables, electronics and other goods are being moved by air as well.
Forwarders are reporting more than $500,000 for an Asia-Europe A330 charter, and more than $21 per kg for some urgent shipments on transatlantic routes.
“Rates are the highest I’ve ever seen; I can’t see them going much higher, but then this crisis has taught us we’re in unprecedented times.”Neel Jones Shah, head of airfreight for Flexport.
Passenger airlines are doing everything that they can to cash in on some of that surging demand for air cargo capacity.
When it comes to temporarily turning a passenger aircraft into a freighter, there is little precedent though. Here are some examples of how different passenger airlines are approaching the problem.
Boeing produced a short (1:30) video back in 2016 about the process of converting a passenger plane into a dedicated freighter.
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