Since the domestic and travel flights have dropped off due to shelter in place orders, airlines who specialize in passenger cargo have seen their customers decrease to almost nothing. In light of the unflown planes sitting in wait for travel to begin, many passenger carriers have begun removing seats from their main deck to fill them with cargo as capacity on all-freighter airlines is at a premium. Previously, many of these planes flew as empty main decks with full belly cargo to bridge the gap in services that dropped out due to the grounding of so many commercial flights.
Shelter in place orders, the coronavirus pandemic and travel restrictions have grounded many passenger aircraft while all-cargo airlines are working overtime to meet supply chain demands for essential goods and medical equipment that’s been in short supply around the world. A large chunk of regular freight that moves by air is carried in the belly space of passenger craft so without those flights going, the shippers have lost a great amount of space for their cargo. All cargo flights can’t seem to keep up and ocean cargo takes too long considering the compound issue of equipment imbalances and port closures.
There has been some competition-related push back from freighter operators about restructuring of the rules on carrying cargo on passenger aircraft to match freighters. The FAA included information on weight, balance, fire suppression and dangerous goods – which includes much of the medical equipment desperately needed. For now DG cargo cannot be carried on the upper deck and at least one crew member should be travelling in the cabin to monitor cargo safety and provide fire suppression in the event it’s necessary.