More airlines use their passenger planes as freighters amid COVID-19 pandemic

Montreal, Canada - Airlines around the world use their passenger planes as freighters since the air travel was severely hit by the COVID pandemic.

The demand for medical supply transportation led the airfreight rates to breach the $5 per kg mark on the transpacific trade lane for the first time in years.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the demand for air travel dropped drastically. The airlines had to ground most of their passenger planes with plenty of room onboard.

The US and Europe are going into lockdown just as China’s factories, which dropped to as low as 15 percent production capacity in January and February. Chinese factories are ramping up their production now.

The initial drop left companies with dwindling inventories of all sorts. Now companies that usually get goods by ship are desperate to restock and can’t wait for the cheaper, slower ocean crossings.

Airlines such as Lufthansa, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Air Canada have been loading up passenger seats with cargo to mitigate their revenue losses.

On March 25, a Lufthansa Airbus A330 passenger jet transported 30 tons of medical supplies for COVID-19 from Shanghai to Frankfurt. In addition to the cargo compartments and seats of the aircraft, the hand-luggage bins were also filled with goods.

Lufthansa Airbus A330 with cargo loaded in the cabin