Demand for chartered air cargo remains strong

Black and white cargo plane in loading process

Commercial passenger flights cautiously returning to the skies haven’t had a drastic effect on demand for chartered air cargo. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, aerospace and especially government shippers were the most frequent bookers of chartered air cargo flights. But with capacity remaining tight in the market, shippers from a broad array of industries continue to rely on chartered carriers. 

“Millions of pounds of capacity have been taken out of the air while thousands of flights remain grounded,” said Bob McGhee, director of government and aerospace operations at AIT Worldwide Logistics. “There’s still a tremendous strain and compression on commercial carriers’ capability to handle cargo.”

In this Government/Aerospace Briefing, presented by AIT Worldwide Logistics, FreightWaves Director of Freight Intelligence Zach Strickland discussed with McGhee the recent pricing fluctuation in chartered air cargo services.

As commercial carriers pulled their aircraft out of service, McGhee explained, demand for charter capacity skyrocketed and so did pricing. The return of some commercial capacity helped ease rates, but the unanticipated additional flight hours for charter aircraft accelerated regularly scheduled maintenance dates.

“Heading into Q2, prices dropped a bit as service became more consistent; however, due to extended maintenance requirements, it’s taken a substantial amount of capacity out of the air,” McGhee said. “That’s started to push rates back up as restrictions on commercial carriers are still in place.”