Arkansas Trucking Association

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Airlines move freight when passenger business dries up

The airline industry has been one of the first and hardest hit by the economic effects of the COVID-19 outbreak. Major passenger airline operators—including American, Delta and United—have all run cargo-only flights.

When passenger demand dropped 90% on a flight between Fort Worth, Texas, and Frankfurt, Germany, American Airlines used the Boeing 777-300 to transport medical supplies and other cargo in place of the passengers.

“Challenging times call for creative solutions, and a team of people across the airline has been working nonstop to arrange cargo-only flight options for our customers,” Rick Elieson, president of cargo for American Airlines, said in a statement.

Bloomberg reported that, for American, the shift represents the first flights for the carrier without passengers since 1984.

Foreign carriers have also responded to the lost revenue of decreased passenger demand by moving freight instead of travelers. Korean Air reported that most of its flights have been grounded, but it was able to transport emergency supplies from South Korea to Vietnam, using a passenger jet to ferry the cargo.

The U.S. airline industry will receive some aid from the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief package, but the stipulations require that they keep paying employees and maintain service to most of their destinations.

Cargo-only flights are not enough for airlines to make up for lost revenue, but it allows them to maintain some of their workforce and take advantage of the low fuel costs.

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Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
You are here: Home News In Brief Airlines move freight when passenger business dries up