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The scramble for personal protection equipment (PPE) has buoyed airfreight, pushing rates to lofty heights. National governments’ determination to secure PPE at almost any cost has been a significant factor, but it has prompted the deployment of fresh capacity that is beginning to put the brakes on prices.

While passenger airlines have slashed more than 90% of their flights and are bleeding cash at alarming rates, airfreight is generating record yields. Rates are in the stratosphere and the price of charters has soared to eye-watering levels.

Carriers are responding to the need by putting additional capacity in rotation. The number of passenger airlines that field widebody aircraft for cargo missions has kept growing, as well as moving to establish regular networks with their cargo flights. On top of 14 weekly freighter runs between China and Europe, Lufthansa is now flying passenger planes twice daily on the Frankfurt-Shanghai sector and one daily flight between Shanghai and Munich. United Airlines is up to 150 cargo flights a week. Virgin Atlantic announced a program on April 21 that uses 787 passenger aircraft for three cargo flights a week between London and Shanghai. On May 2, Emirates SkyCargo announced it would be launching four weekly cargo flights, with 777-300ER passenger planes, on a Dubai-Auckland-Melbourne-Dubai routing

Air Canada was the first to remove seats, from three of its 777s, to boost cargo capacity, while several others, including Swiss WorldCargo, Lufthansa and American Airlines, are considering this option. Icelandair has taken the seats out of three 767s to accommodate the demand.

“The demand for carriage of PPE has been a catalyst for many passenger operators, who were in mid-March originally not keen on operating as freighters, to now do so – also for the commercial market. This has had effect on stemming further increase in freighter rates, as a significant amount of new capacity has been added to the market in the last three to four weeks,” one airfreight expert noted.

While the demand for air cargo is very high at the moment, shipments are being lifted. Please reach out to your Mallory Representative to explore your airfreight options.

Source: The Loadstar