According to the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines (AAPA) , global demand for air cargo declined by 19 percent in March 2020 compared to the same month last year “but is holding up relatively well despite economic disruption in many economies following measures aimed at slowing the spread of covid-19.”
Goods being shipped by air cargo include significant volumes of pharmaceuticals, medical protective equipment, and food supplies. Airlines have increased the number of services operated by dedicated freighter aircraft to partially compensate for the loss of bellyhold capacity resulting from the drastic cutbacks in passenger services.
A number of Asian airlines have also been operating additional air cargo services using passenger aircraft adapted to carry cargo both in the bellyhold as well as in the cabin in the absence of passengers.
Subhas Menon, director general, AAPA, commented: “The current crisis is taking an enormous toll on Asian economies and people’s livelihoods across the region. Some 50 million people work in travel and tourism alone within the Asia Pacific region. We recognise and applaud the efforts being made by many governments to offer financial assistance and support to the aviation industry as well as the wider travel and tourism sector.
“The Asia Pacific aviation community is strongly committed to continuing to work closely with governments, public health authorities, and other international bodies to both respond to current challenges, and at the same time begin to make plans for recovery. Aviation has always been a key driver of economic and social development, nowhere more so than in the Asia Pacific region, and will play an important role in the overall recovery effort.”