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Air Freight Affected by COVID-19

Air Freight Affected by COVID-19

Will airfreight industry recover from COVID–19?

Posted: June 8, 2020 |

Like the rest of the world, the air freight industry has been vastly affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic. According to several industry experts, the current coronavirus outbreak is the biggest crisis ever faced by the air cargo industry – more so than all of the previous major crises such as the global financial crisis, and US container port strikes, combined. The question is “will the airline industry recover as the country recovers from the COVIS – 19”.

Restructuring operations

The environment has changed drastically over a few months than that of the pre-COVID market, the air freight industry is in the process of completely restructuring and reorganizing how it operates. Airlines are in financial stress as stock prices plummet even with the over 25 billion in federal aid designated for the airline industry.

Due to the pandemic, there has been a major decline in passenger flights and demand of passenger travel. Air travel has dropped by more than 95%, with some days seeing fewer than 100,000 air travelers across the county. Now we find a major increase in demand for cargo such as medical supplies and face masks. Also there has been a significant uptick in the demand for perishable cargo such as meat and other groceries. Airlines are responding by converting passenger flights into cargo flights and passenger aircrafts into freighters. Several airports for instance, are reporting as much as a 400% increase in cargo movements.

As cargo operations are absolutely essential in order to meet the demand for necessities like medical supplies, many cargo hubs have increased their operations and capacity. However, while operations continue 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, staff levels have been significantly reduced as layoffs occur to reduce costs. Remote working is not option for many air freight personnel. These employees must grapple with a substantial increase in workload due to increased demand and reduced staff as well as rigorous sanitation procedures. A difficult situation as the airlines struggle to provide services in spite of the Covid-19.

Increasing unpredictability

The pandemic has resulted in greater unpredictability within air freight. Flight scheduling is one of the most difficult aspects during the pandemic, as extra flights are constantly being added and flights are often being postponed or cancelled from day to day, resulting in continually fluctuating flight schedules and increased costs.

As a result, airlines, airports and cargo handlers are having to be more flexible than ever to meet the increased demand for imported and exported cargo during this time, particularly when it comes to vital cargo like medical supplies and equipment. The airline industry know that their work is essential in order to transport goods and keep the local and global economy running.

Future uncertainty

As with many industries, the effect of the coronavirus outbreak is expected to have consequences in the long-term. “The way the economy is going to be impacted post COVID-19 is of course something that remains to be seen, but it is going to be a difficult and challenging year ahead for a lot of businesses, whether small or large. And then you have to wonder what sort of impact it will have on consumer confidence and purchasing power – the ability to go out and buy and spend money. This will definitely have a much larger impact in the long term. Industry experts suggest growth may not pick up substantially again until 2023.

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