Don’t panic! Rush to get freighters airborne again as freight rates skyrocket

You might remember that two months ago the air cargo market was so bad that the UK arm of ABC, Cargologicair, suspended its own licences and sent two of its 744’s off to pasture, while in effect freezing the company.

Yesterday the UK CAA reinstated the airlines AOC and its about to start flying its remaining pair of 747’s in the next days.

Slovakian Air Cargo Global had its AOC suspended just a week ago and is already trying to get it back.

Atlas Air has managed to get two of its four parked aircraft back in the skies and will probably add the other two as soon as it can, but lead times are around 30-45 days from deep storage.

The United States has forced FedEx, Kalitta Air and Atlas to devote aircraft to the DoD operated CRAF scheme, which means they get paid higher rates but only operate for the US Government and go where the government tells them. That means they’re not available to the open market.

Meanwhile freighters are flying flat out – any look at FR24 will show you how many are flying at present at times of the day that are unheard of usually, there being no passenger traffic to speak of.

The rates for a kilogram (2.54lbs) vary widely, but on key cargo routes, if you don’t have a contract reports of up to $41/kg are being seen which for air freight is astronomically expensive.

Last weekend the UK government, which got itself into a mess over when and where 84 tons of medical gowns were to arrive from Turkey, found it so hard to obtain cargo flights they sent an RAF C17 and and an A400M to pick it and another shipment up.

Virgin Atlantic, along with many other airlines are flying 787-9 and A350-1000 flights from Heathrow to JFK, LAX and South Africa just to move cargo.

PPE (personal protective equipment) is being consumed in such vast quantities because of the Covid19 pandemic and the number of patients in hospitals that factories around the world – competing for contracts with almost every needy government and charging them accordingly, can barely keep up with demand. Face mask use is said to run into the million+ per day just in the UK, and over 1.1 billion PPE items have been flown in to the UK alone in the past month.

Its that scale that has gotten airlines – still shipping all the other items they do around the world, in such high demand.