When the pandemic started, airlines had to deal with a sudden lack of international travelers lining up for flights. By removing the seats, planes were re-outfitted to carry cargo. The lack of belly space on packed airplanes caused a quick dip in numbers for airlines, but their pivot worked. Now, United, which saw cargo revenue leap 105% in the second half of 2020 has turned away from the cargo as passengers return to air travel.
It’s not a sure end to the pandemic but it is a great sight to see passengers returning to the air for both business and pleasure, in both domestic and international trips. While passenger flights don’t have the same capacity for cargo as heavy freight flights, the turn saved airlines from certain calamities. It should not be difficult to pivot back if need be should the pandemic and viral variants ramp up and cause new travel restrictions.
For now, the vision of people boarding flights, families carting children on vacations, and business travelers waiting patiently at gates makes everyone in the world of logistics feel better. It appears that though we aren’t completely out of trouble, we are coming to the light at the end of the tunnel. Despite the heavy passenger airports not being the best cargo connections, the option to keep imports moving through a pandemic was a boon to carriers. Capacity on all cargo airlines was impossible to find as US imports soared when consumers diverted their entertainment budgets to online shopping for the duration of 2020, accelerating the shopping platform by a decade.
Airfreight capacity is working to keep retail outfitters in business while inventory is low and cargo is delayed by ocean and rain congestion on the US coasts. If you need to move urgent shipments to protect your inventory, talk to your Nelson International representative to discuss expediting your cargo by air.