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Airlines ramp up cargo services to battle Covid-19 pandemic

Airlines ramp up cargo services to battle Covid-19 pandemic

With passenger services all but grounded across Europe, North America and parts of Asia, a number of carriers are turning attention to cargo operations.

In the United Arab Emirates, Etihad Cargo continues to play a vital role in connecting key cargo markets and ensuring the import and export needs are adequately covered in line with current demand.

This comes despite a directive issued by the national emergency crisis and disaster management authority to ground all passenger flights this week.

To complement its fleet of Boeing 777 freighters, Etihad Cargo is introducing a fleet of Boeing 787-10 aircraft as passenger freighters to operate 34 weekly flights, serving ten markets initially.

Each aircraft will provide capacity for 12 lower deck pallets and four containers, carrying up to 45 tons of payload.

The passenger freighter network will introduce capacity, subject to permits, into India, Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Indonesia, South Korea and other places where borders remain open for cargo.

On top of that, the current freighter schedule will be enhanced by additional flights into Riyadh, London, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Abdulla Mohamed Shadid, managing director cargo and logistics at Etihad Aviation Group, said: “As the national carrier to the UAE, Etihad is working closely with the government to ensure the country is well served and the needs of the people residing in the country are unaffected, while continuing to play our role as a facilitator of global trade between the east and the west.”

Air Canada

Air Canada has begun using its aircraft to operate cargo-only flights to Europe, with other flights planned for Latin America and South America.

The aircraft on these flights carry no passengers but move time-sensitive shipments, including medical supplies to combat Covid-19, and goods to support the global economy.

“Air Canada Cargo has long served as a vital link in global supply chains and with the disruption arising from the Covid-19 pandemic our capabilities are more important than ever.


“Although we have announced very significant temporary capacity reductions and our passenger flights are largely dedicated to bringing Canadians home, Air Canada’s aircraft and our expertise in handling cargo are valuable assets that we can use to move medical supplies and other essential goods to keep the world economy going.

“We have already begun flights to Europe, and we are planning to expand this program to Latin America and South America, as well as within Canada, including remote communities using Air Canada Express aircraft.

“In addition to providing a much-needed service, these cargo-only flights are also supporting jobs at Air Canada,” said Tim Strauss, vice president of cargo, Air Canada.

The first cargo-only flights departed from Toronto this past week for Frankfurt, London and Amsterdam, which are all both important business centres and connection points for onward cargo shipments.

The flights were operated using Boeing 787 aircraft capable of carrying 35 tonnes of cargo, the equivalent of about 80 grand pianos.

Air Canada does not operate cargo aircraft, instead its Air Canada Cargo division manages and markets excess belly space on the airline’s regular passenger flights for shippers operating worldwide.


Due to the health contingency and, supporting the continuity of economies and businesses, Aeromexico will also use part of its grounded fleet for cargo-only through its airfreight division, Aeromexico Cargo.

At this time, air freight is essential for the shipping of supplies, medicines, medical equipment, food, and other products. Today’s flight will take off from Mexico City to Frankfurt shipping 15 tons.

The service is operated as a charter, meaning on demand and for shipping perishable products, live animals, high-value goods, technology and drugs, among others.

Domestically, Aeromexico can transport cargo to 41 airports, and internationally in the United States, Canada, Central and South America, Asia and, Europe.


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