As cargo demand remains high and passenger flights are still lower than last year’s numbers, Delta Air Lines has launched several new cargo routes, all of which pass through Frankfurt. The airline’s Airbus A330s operate cargo-only routes connecting New York and Atlanta to Mumbai. It has also increased the frequency of other routes that use Boeing 767-400 aircraft.
Delta now averages just over 20 cargo-only flights per week. Annually, the airline carries around 421,000 tons of cargo around the world. Judging by the increased demand for pharmaceutical and medical supplies, this year’s number will probably be higher. To meet the increased demand, the airline has added to its schedule of cargo-only flights.
The airline has added a slew of flights connecting the US with Europe and India. Daily flights operate between New York and Madrid using a Boeing 767-300. Another cargo-only daily flight connects New York to Dublin. An Airbus A330-300 operates this flight. The A330s are also used on flights to Mumbai from both New York and Atlanta. Both flights stop off in Frankfurt.
In a statement, Shawn Cole Delta’s Vice President of Cargo Operations said,
“Given the travel constraints within Europe, we are strategically adding cargo capacity in Spain, Ireland, and Germany to support overall passenger and cargo growth. There is a high demand for pharmaceutical shipments from India because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and this cargo solution ensures we can keep vital supply chains moving to the United States.”
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Even more cargo
With the end-of-year holiday approaching and Black Friday looming, cargo demand worldwide is likely to increase even more over the coming weeks. This year, with many lockdowns and restrictions in place, online shopping is likely to compound the increase in demand. With fewer passenger flights also carrying cargo, we may see an increase in cargo-only flights to cover the gap.
With more demand and fewer flights, cargo prices are increasing. Alfa Logistics is reporting that despite an 18% decrease in cargo for the first half of the year, cargo revenue grew by 21%. This was confirmed by the IATA in June, which released a statement claiming a 16.8% decrease in tonnage won’t stop global cargo revenues growing $8 billion compared to last year.
Taking advantage of cargo
Delta isn’t the only airline looking to take advantage of the surge in cargo. Airlines around the world have been turning to cargo operations to keep revenues during this challenging time. Some airlines, such as Etihad, have taken to loading cargo into empty passenger seats. Additional airlines such as Qantas, Hi Fly, British Airways, Swiss, TAP Air Portugal, and Icelandair have converted passenger planes into cargo-only freighters.
Airlines such as Philippine Airlines, American Airlines, Air Canada, and Cathay Dragon have also been operating cargo-only flights. So far, the cargo boom shows no sign of slowing down. Experts are now starting to look at what will happen when a COVID-19 vaccine is approved. The IATA has said that a single dose of the vaccine for 7.8 billion people, the world’s population, would fill 8,000 Boeing 747 aircraft. That’s a huge amount of cargo-only flights.