Air cargo traffic is peaking with planes flying at over 90% capacity to promptly deliver goods to consumers and manufacturers around the world. The overcapacity and congestion of ocean freights have been a major factor contributing to the popular demand of air freight. With peak shipping season here and holiday shipping right around the corner, demand for air freight is high with rates set at 80% above pre-pandemic levels.
“We are at the limit” says Bernhard Kindelbacher, head of operations for Deutsche Lufthansa AG. This is apparent when passenger jets are being repurposed for cargo transport. Despite the premium price of air freight, shippers are eager to use repurposed passenger jets and this interest is reflected in the 30% increase in global airfreight traffic revenue compared to pre-pandemic levels. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airfreight accounts for less than 1% of global trade by weight, yet is worth 30% more by value. Many airlines are considering shipping to a major profit center for them this year with commercial travel demand down, but shipping demand up.
As congestion continues to plague port terminals around the world, airlines are benefitting from the high demand for shippers amid straining supply chains. Commodities like wedding dresses, car tires, and human organs are all riding first class due to lower travel demand. However, airlines are also starting to feel the strain of supporting the global supply chain, which is leading to Boeing and Airbus considering developing new freighter aircrafts.