When the task is to deliver urgent cargo, the best solution is, of course, international air cargo. In the context of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, the international delivery of medicines as urgent cargo is a very popular service.
But in connection with the same COVID-19 pandemic, many countries are faced with the problem of late delivery of goods, including the same medicines, medical equipment, mail, humanitarian supplies. Passenger planes usually carry almost half of all cargo in luggage compartments. But as a result of the pandemic, almost the entire world passenger fleet is on forced vacation.
IATA, TIACA and the European Commission
The International Air Transport Association (IATA), which represents about 290 airlines, which account for 82% of global air traffic, calls on governments to take urgent measures to resume normal international freight traffic.
The International Freight Transport Association (TIACA) also wants the international air transportation of goods during COVID-19 to occur without delay and in the required volumes. She emphasizes the importance of uninterrupted air transportation of goods in the fight against the health crisis.
The European Commission also calls on EU member states to support air cargo during the coronavirus crisis. In the new instructions that she prepared, operational and organizational measures are recommended to ensure the movement of the main traffic flows, including for the transport of medical supplies.
According to TIACA, several countries have already taken measures to free quarantine members of cargo crews and allow all airlines and cargo operations to continue their activities. However, the problem is still quite acute.
Therefore, many international airlines are trying to find solutions on how to use passenger planes, which are now simply idle, in order to send cargo in one direction or another.
How to transport cargo optimally on a passenger plane?
As many countries introduced quarantine in March, which restricts the movement of people outside the home, e-commerce has increased. And to the number of urgent cargoes, such as humanitarian supplies, medicines, medical equipment, foodstuffs, many other goods were added that needed to be shipped.
Airlines, taking advantage of the moment, are trying to return at least part of the money that they lose in connection with the cancellation of passenger flights. In order for international air cargo delivery to be possible, they use several solutions.
The use of aircraft intended for the carriage of passengers as cargo
To cope with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some airlines decided to use their passenger planes to transport goods.
Cathay Pacific, Scoot, Korean Air, Qantas and Delta Cargo
The decision to use its fleet for cargo flights in March was announced by the Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific, the low-cost airline Scoot, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, as well as Korean Air, Qantas and Delta Cargo.
Since March 13, the Korean carrier Korean Air began using passenger aircraft to transport goods on temporarily suspended routes, including Ho Chi Minh City and Qingdao. Starting March 21, Korean Air will deploy additional passenger aircraft to transport goods to Qingdao, gradually expanding the geography of transportation.
Australian airline Qantas is also planning to use part of its fleet destined for domestic passenger flights on cargo routes. At the same time, the cargo division of the American carrier Delta Cargo announced the launch of charter flights to support its customers’ supply chains.
Turkish Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada and American Airlines
Rickard Ingvarsson, a spokesman for Scan Global Logistics, said more and more airlines in Europe, the United States and the Middle East plan to introduce similar services for the transport of goods by passenger airplanes.
Turkish Airlines, Aeromexico, Air Canada and American Airlines have also joined the growing number of airlines using passenger aircraft as cargo during the coronavirus pandemic. This method of transporting goods is the most popular solution among international airlines. In addition, Turkish Cargo increased cargo volumes by 14,500 tons thanks to an additional 167 cargo flights.
Air Canada has re-equipped the cabin of three Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, which are now designed exclusively for the carriage of goods. All 422 places were dismantled from them, which made it possible to create enough internal space, which will be intended exclusively for the transport of medical items used to combat coronavirus.
American Airlines transports medicine, mail, electronics, and other goods as part of its first 36-year cargo flights. For their implementation, she will use one of the passenger aircraft, which remained out of work after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition to the holds, the cargo is also placed in the upper luggage racks designed for bags and in front of the seats, which allows to increase the load of the aircraft.
In addition, some models make it easy to remove seats and convert their cabin for cargo transportation.
Also, solutions are being actively developed that allow the most efficient use of the aircraft cabin to accommodate cargo without damaging the internal content.
Coronavirus has accelerated the development of various advances to help aviation better cope with the crisis and maintain vital supply lines around the world.
One of the latest achievements is the cargo seats for the passenger cabin of the Airbus A320 family aircraft for the transport of commercial and humanitarian cargo, developed by Colibri Aero and J & C Aero.
Both companies, headquartered in Lithuania, began work on this cabin modification last year. However, after the first signs of a nascent health crisis, in January 2020, the development team increased its resources to find a solution more quickly.
Now, given the current situation, this modification for Airbus A320 family aircraft has been approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).
Kits for the transport of goods in passenger aircraft
HAECO Cabin Solutions has developed new kits for the transport of goods in passenger aircraft.
Four unique solutions were developed in less than a month. The pallet, placed directly on the cab floor, has a load capacity of 454 kg, and the seat frame can withstand 227 kg. Kits with a load capacity of up to 109 kg are also available, which can be placed on or next to the seat.
These solutions can be applied on currently used types of seats and passenger aircraft with a narrow and wide fuselage. Installation occurs without the use of special tools. Most importantly, their installation does not alter the alignment of the aircraft.