Passenger Aircraft to Turn into Cargo Planes | COVID-19
People all over the world have been advised to stay home and avoid any unnecessary travel to stay safe. After the situation got worse in Italy and Spain, governments are trying their best to avoid a similar situation to happen in their own countries. The US immediately halted all flight operations to and from Europe after the situation got out of control there.
But now the number of cases in the United States has surpassed those in China or any other country and the death rate in that country is highest too. No one can tell when the situation could get normal.
Countries are taking drastic measures to bring the situation under control and save their people. The health challenges that the pandemic has raised are unprecedented. The strain is being felt in almost all the countries as many businesses all across the world have been put to a halt, tourism banned, travel restrictions imposed, borders closed, etc.
Airline Industry Suffering
According to a report airlines worldwide had to cancel almost 200000 flight operations this year due to the global pandemic and it’s just the fourth month of 2020. Due to the national and international policies, along with the reduction of travel demand, air flight restrictions were imposed.
After America cut domestic flights by almost 80% until May, the regional carriers in America are suffering a lot. As the travel demand is also dropping, the need for flight operations is baseless due to which several regional airlines are on the edge of collapsing. The airline industry is suffering a lot and doesn’t seem strong enough to survive big jerks such as the one being set off by the COVID 19 pandemics.
Cargo Activities Affected
According to reports, the Airline transport is responsible for carrying 80% of the dollar worth of goods every day. Cargo activities all across the globe have been affected due to COVID 19.
The cargo activities in Asia started to get affected as early as January when the virus was wreaking havoc only in China. As the manufacturing factories were shut in China and countries across the world imposed travel restrictions on China, businesses across the globe started to suffer. But as the spread couldn’t be contained, more countries descended into the same crisis.
The cargo planes play a very important role in shipping time-sensitive goods, including agricultural goods and medicines, and also deliver other urgent parcels and letters faster than the other shipment ways.
Are Relief Packages enough to compensate for the loss?
Some airlines though have been promised relief packages but others are all on their own. The airlines belonging to the developing and underdeveloped countries are expected to get a major hit if the situation continues to stay like this. Countries like the United States have announced to give 50 billion US dollar aid to its airline sector to compensate for the loss. But would that be enough? The situation is expected to get worse before it gets better. The passenger flight operations are also responsible for transporting goods and products from one place to another.
Airlines around the world are either being forced by their governments to halt the flight operations to stop the further spread of COVID 19 or they are choosing to cut flights as people are not willing to travel fearing the pandemic. Some airlines have turned their passenger planes into cargo planes to lessen the financial burden as much as they can.
Converting Passenger Planes into Cargo Planes
Cargo operations in almost all countries were affected due to which major world cargo operations are suffering. India facing a total lockdown is also one of the biggest producers of paracetamol based medicine that plays an important role in relieving the COVID 19 symptoms. The border closure created hurdles in the transportation of this medicine to other countries. To transport it to other countries, passenger flights were used as cargo-only flights. With passenger flights grounded, the belly capacity is facing a loss and the freighter capacity is rising. Some airlines are turning their passenger flights into cargo flights.
The step was first taken by the lead Korean Airline and Scoot which is a subsidiary of Singaporean Airlines. More airlines are expected to follow these footsteps. In fact, official statements from Cathay Pacific show that they are already considering it.
Moreover, US Airlines are turning their passenger planes into cargo planes. United Airlines is planning to convert its largest planes into cargo planes but still, the belly capacity is still not being compensated. For example, in Asia, the freighter capacity of the passenger planes is 45% and due to the coronavirus outbreak, this capacity has to be compensated one way or the other.
Delta, which is one of the major airlines of the United States, is preparing its planes to fly again in the air. Only this time, it’s not for the passengers, but Delta is planning to run charter flights to move cargo to the other places. Thirteen American airports have been chosen to start flight operations to seventy overseas destinations.
Can the Passenger Airlines be Converted into Cargo Planes
Still, there is a question if the passenger flights can really be converted into cargo planes. The basic airline structure is the same in all the planes. Oftentimes the old passenger planes are often converted into cargo planes. The exterior is the same in all the planes while the interior is different. The cargo and passenger planes have a similar basic structure but differ in operations. Air cargo is way too expensive than cargo shipping or shipments through trucks but is most suitable for the quick and speedy delivery of goods.
Is it Beneficial
Without passengers and their luggage, it becomes easier to load the cargo and adjust it accordingly. A Boeing that can carry 332 passengers would have a lot of cargo capacity of more than forty thousand pounds of cargo. According to researchers, this would not only help the trade but the economies of the countries as well.
Hike in Price and Delays
A cargo pilot of O’Hare International Airport contended that the cargo airlines have much higher profit margins than the normal passenger airline.
And amid the pandemic, the cargo operations are facing a strain too and taking more time and more cost than before to transport goods. According to a cargo operator, the cargo that usually took three to five days to reach its destination would take almost eight days now. He also said that the cost per kilogram is also increased as it has been raised from 3 dollars to 6 dollars per kilogram which is almost double what it used to be. The manufacturing and production had been stopped due to the grim situation in China but now as the factories are open again the production is high but the capacity is short and rates are high and it would take longer times to transit.