Sep 24, 2020
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Unlike Passengers, Cargo Never Complains. But Can It Make Money For Airlines During Coronavirus Crisis?

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Soybean seeds wait to be loaded on the Boeing 777-300 flying from Buenos Aires to Miami on April 16. . [+] AMERICAN AIRLINES The adage about airline cargo is that unlike airline passengers cargo never complains. Another benefit: Cargo unlike airline passengers continues to be flying in the course of the coronavirus crisis


Actually demand for air cargo capacity has surged because about half the world s air cargo once traveled within the belly of passenger aircraft. While cargo accounted for lower than 2% of Delta revenue within the first quarter Within the short term it s greater than 2% of current revenues CEO Ed Bastian said Wednesday on a first-quarter earnings call with reporters


Delta is flying a number of cargo missions as well as carrying freight medical supplies out of China [and] working with cargo carriers Bastian said. On an earlier analysts earnings call Bastian said We ve instituted charters going over to China as we re bringing medical supplies [personal protective equipment] back to the workers on the front line of this crisis …We re taking the various main deck seats off some of our international planes to facilitate taking greater lift within the short term and we ll continue to use those resources where it is sensible for certainly for your time to come


Does it make financial sense for passenger planes to function as cargo carriers? With the current air freight prices it does Bjorn Fehrm wrote in trade publication Leeham News on Thursday. The high freight prices are as a result half the world s freight capacity disappearing with the grounding of passenger jets


Fehrm noted that while widebody passenger aircraft carrying cargo only within the belly can earn money narrow body aircraft need to provide cabin capacity as well as cargo hold capacity. For single-aisle jets the belly cargo holds are too small [so] a cabin cargo loading system is important for efficient operation he wrote


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The Women s Vote Is A Vote For Children However long-term it probably doesn t make sense to take seats out


An Airbus A320 can load five tons of normal containers but could carry 18 tons with a cabin cargo system Fehrm said. A Boeing BA -0. 8% 737-800 can carry 6. 6 loads of cargo under the ground but 21 tons if the cabin is reconfigured. While cargo cannot possibly replace nearly all of revenue lost due to the vast decline in passenger traffic It s absolutely good for morale said aviation consultant Bob Mann


It shows that [airlines] are agile and respond when called upon. It s a public health logistics crisis and they’re helping out. Joe DePete president of the Air Line Pilots Association said in an interview that pilots desire to fly this mission; they’re proud of doing this mission and that they know that the supplies coming back mean that people will live or die DePete noted however the carriers must provide crews with safety guarantees including sufficient cockpit cleaning and disinfecting as well as notification when other pilots have tested positive for Covid-19


An issue Mann said is that a number of the traffic is one-way: delivery of health care supplies from China and elsewhere. You fly one-way empty he said. The live leg needs to be exceptionally profitable. There’s peak directional logistics demand. It won t last within the normal course of economic assuming there is a normal course of business


Still on a daily basis brings a brand new announcement of a passenger airline providing cargo service. American as an example said Thursday that it operated an all-cargo Boeing 777-300 flight to hold soybean and corn seed from Buenos Aires to Miami on April 16. The flight broke American s all-time record for 777 freight moving 115 349 pounds of soybean seeds


The previous record for American s 777-300 was 103 384 pounds set in 2014 on an LAX-Heathrow flight. American has shipped greater than 290 loads of seeds in the past few weeks. Spring is planting season for soybean and corn crops in America s heartland and these seeds are a top commodity shipped aboard flights from Argentina to the US American said


Within the fall Seeds from the grown plants are shipped back to Argentina to look ahead to the subsequent growing season within the warmth of the southern hemisphere it said. American has expanded its cargo-only schedule to 46 weekly flights offering greater than 6. 5 million pounds of capacity to move critical goods each week between the US and Europe Asia and Latin America


The U. S. -bound cargo include personal protective equipment and pharmaceuticals

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