products to people around the world is the United Cargo mission,” said Jan Krems, United Cargo President.
“That role has never been more crucial
than during the current crisis.
“Our team is working around the clock
to provide innovative solutions for our customers and support the global
“Getting critical goods into the hands
of the businesses and people who need them most is extremely important
“To support customers, employees and
the global economy, we will initially operate a schedule of 40 cargo charters
each week targeting international destinations and will continue to seek
“The first of these freight-only flights
departed on March 19 from Chicago O'Hare International Airport (ORD) to
Frankfurt International Airport (FRA) with the cargo hold completely full,
with more than 29,000 lbs. of goods," Jan Krems declared.
Enter The Ghost Airlines
The China COVID-19 pandemic that exited
Wuhan and blanketed the Earth causing unbelievable pain and suffering
almost everywhere, has for the airline industry brought one important
point front and center. No matter what else happens, come hell or high
water, air cargo always flies.
Just when you might have thought there is
no way ahead, the air cargo industry proves once again, down is not out.
Now comes a new era, albeit short-lived
of passenger aircraft carrying freight only.
Suddenly everybody is in the air cargo charter
But cargo people have always said that their
B777s (the 200s especially) were ‘secret freighters’.
Add those volumetric underbellies of A350s
and A330s that can also lift some weight and everyone has the possibility
to benefit from what should be premium rates for uplift here and there
All Cargo Virgin Territory
Suddenly, air cargo people who have always
focused on the aircraft hold are now being refocused on the main deck
as charter takes over during the pandemic.
On Saturday March 21, Virgin Managing
Director Cargo Dominic Kennedy was in the cat-bird seat as pilots (left)
Captain Steve Wrigley and First Officer James Bennett ready a VS698 for
push back from Heathrow to New York with eleven pallets in the hold.
“I must say, standing out on the ramp
at an eerily quiet Heathrow today really brought home to me the scale
of what’s happening here—and added to my feeling of immense
pride as I watched our inaugural cargo-only charter get airborne, knowing
the aircraft would have otherwise been sat on the ground if not for the
herculean effort of our cargo team in making this happen, especially at
such short notice and in these challenging times,” Dom declared.
Not All Beer & Skittles
it isn’t all beer and skittles, as TIACA Hall Of Fame and acknowledged
air cargo pioneer Bill Boesch, former President of American Airlines points
Bill, who put AA air cargo on the map of
the world during his tenure as President of AA Cargo during the 1980s,
tells FlyingTypers exclusively:
“The bottom line is a matter of weight
“No passenger weight on the upper
deck changes the dynamics of the distribution in weight.
“So, say you can at most carry 40K
in the belly.
“At $1.5/kg you would lose money or
“Most of Europe has now waived the
‘use it or lose it’ slot rules like the UK did, so the U.S.
carriers don’t need to fly to protect their slots.
“But flying aircraft at break even
affords a lot of benefits to the carrier versus the cost of parking aircraft
and caring for them while parked.
“Keeping an airplane flying allows
it to return to line service again quickly when this current shutdown
”Now as we enter the era of the ‘Ghost
Freighters’, make no mistake, if the yield is there, ghost flights
driving use and some revenue is better than parking aircraft out in the
desert,” Bill Boesch said.
Cargo Airlift Germany Returns
will do everything to maintain the supply chains,” said Carsten
Spohr, CEO of Lufthansa.
Carsten, you might remember, went from the
left seat to the top position at Lufthansa Cargo to CEO of the entire
“We are working full steam on an air
bridge for the whole of Germany,” Carsten proclaimed.
Right now, we can only wonder why Lufthansa
dumped its always-profitable, always-classy Lufthansa Cargo Charter Agency
a few years ago in 2013.
Anybody who ever worked with LCCA chief
Christian Fink or with Heide Enfield, Volker Dunkake, Andrew Morch and
some others, can attest that this was indeed one of the finest specialist
groups ever assembled in the history of air cargo.
Cargo Charter Agency also hosted some really wonderful, not-easily-forgotten
summer parties for its business partners, held at different locations,
including the Vivarium, a beautiful park and children’s zoo
from the 1920s located in Darmstadt.
Aside from being great business people, Lufthansa Cargo Charter was
also known for its support of charitable causes such as Mothers’
Mercy Home, an orphanage in Kianjogu just outside Nairobi, which is
part of the Lufthansa Cargo’s ‘Cargo Human Care’
Right now, that Lufthansa Cargo Charter
group of people who today have been scattered to posts everywhere else
might have been able, at Tante Ju, to stand up and fill up the bellies
of what’s left in the air for the entire airline.
Using Pax aircraft for cargo only, makes
Now that American Airlines will operate
cargo only on its airplanes since it dumped freighters 40 years ago, the
bellies of a B-B777 moved between Dallas and Frankfurt on March 21.
Maybe the first of many, but in any case
AA is sending out an appeal, in a move to fill up the bellies of what
is left of its narrow body domestic fleet.
We wonder if they will bring back their
reefer meat containers from the 1970s when they operated freighters?
We sure hope so.
The Skies Are Alive With Charters
Delta Airlines is flogging cargo only flights
aboard its rather small number of passenger A350 and B777 aircraft.
But apparently as you read this, the first
Delta Cargo Charter is yet to take wing.
Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon, which
have slashed capacity by 96% across their passenger network in April and
May is maintaining its freighter network and putting as much cargo as
possible on its bare bones, three flights a week to 12 destinations-Pax
offering during the time frame.
Over at IAG, CEO Willie Walsh proclaimed:
“Our intention is to try and keep
as much of our capacity available for critical supplies that need to be
shipped around the world.”
Korean Air said that it will operate belly-hold
cargo only flights to Qingdao beginning on March 21.
Vietnam & India A Choice Move?
Meantime speaking of cargo traffic movements,
it might be useful to look for a moment all the way back to February 10th
when sixty-four percent of the logistics industry shakers & movers
surveyed for the 2020 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index said that
“a recession is likely in the next 12 months.”
Only 12% of the 780 respondents said a recession
But here’s the thing, the Agility
Index also found that seventy percent of those with operations and investments
in China said that they will stay put, but if they were to move production
or sourcing from China, that Vietnam and India were the top choices of
places to relocate.
Things To Come?
Now that China has changed the game of life
as most of us on this planet know it, wonder what that survey would say,
barely one month later?
Interestingly the last and at this point
possibly the final industry trade show for 2020 (although we hope not)
was held during February when Air Cargo India met in Mumbai.