Because passenger planes also carry cargo, there is now a lack of capacity for goods. Airlines are getting creative to avoid the shortage.
Lufthansa Cargo had actually been considering taking its MD-11 F out of service early this summer, according to an internal document seen by aeroTELEGRAPH. Now the cargo airline is keeping the tri-jet aircraft until the end of 2020 as planned.
Because parent company Lufthansa is expecting an increase in demand for goods transportation as a result of the corona crisis, it intends to increase its cargo capacity. This is where Lufthansa Cargo comes in. As the newspaper Bild reports, however, the Group is also considering operating pure freight flights with its passenger Boeing 747s.
Industry stresses importance of airfreight
«Lufthansa will do everything in its power to also maintain the supply chains for supplying the German population by air. We are working at full speed on an airlift for all of Germany,» Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr told Bild on Tuesday (16 March). In the current crisis situation, logistics and thus also air freight «is of particular importance for many thousands of companies that depend on supplies,» the airline wrote the day before.
The Aviation Coordinator of the German government and the Federal Association of the German Air Transport Industry (BDL) expressed similar sentiments at a joint press conference in Berlin on Monday. Air freight in particular must remain largely intact as an economically relevant instrument, they said.
IATA warns against capacity shortages
The demand for cargo-only flights will increase worldwide in the near future. Above all, time-critical goods such as medicines or fresh food are often transported by air. With the massive collapse in passenger capacity, however, transport options are also disappearing, as cargo is also carried in the bellies of passenger aircraft.
Experts estimate that the cargo space of passenger planes accounts for around 50 percent of total capacity. It is precisely this capacity that is now largely lacking. The International Civil Aviation Association IATA warned of this on Monday. Its Director General Alexandre de Juniac is calling on governments around the world to exempt cargo flights and their personnel from restrictions.
Easing of night flight bans
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer spoke out on Monday in favor of easing the ban on night flights at German airports, reports the magazine Focus. This should benefit not only tourists but also cargo flights which due to restrictions in shipping traffic are also increasing. Airports such as Frankfurt, Düsseldorf or Berlin-Tegel have eased their night flight bans.
Last week, Singapore Airlines’ low-cost subsidiary Scoot began operating pure cargo flights from Singapore to China with its passenger planes. The passenger seats of the Boeing 787 will remain empty. Starting next weekend, Korean Air will use some passenger planes for cargo flights to China – 100 of 145 planes of which 100 are standing still at the national airline of South Korea.
More and more airlines are converting passenger planes
IAG boss Willie Walsh is also considering using some of the group’s decommissioned passenger planes as freighters. «We want to try to keep as much of our capacity as possible available for critical shipments that need to be shipped around the world,» the manager told Flightglobal magazine. The group, which includes British Airways and Iberia, plans to close down around 75 per cent of its fleet in April and May.