By Judson Rollins
October 18, 2021, © Leeham News: Much ink has been spilled over the surge in demand that has washed over every corner of the cargo world: air, sea, road, and rail.
Before the COVID-19 crisis, air transport was reserved primarily for items with high value and/or time sensitivity, such as laptop computers or express documents. And growing competition in the cargo market meant that average yield (revenue per ton-mile) was declining by more than 2% per year, according to past editions of Boeing’s World Air Cargo Forecast.
But now the cost of sea transport has exploded, shifting a significant chunk of cargo from ocean freighters to their airborne equivalents. This is driving some retailers to use air transport. Home Depot, an American home-improvement retailer, is resorting to air freight to bring in smaller, higher-value items like power tools that it needs to keep on the shelves at all times.
Even before COVID-19, a growing share of air freight has come from e-commerce — thereby shifting the volume-to-weight considerations relative to “traditional” freight.
Will these trends continue even beyond the COVID crisis? And what impact will it have on the market for factory-built freighters and passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversions?