Airlines shift to cargo service to Shanghai

Yang Jian
With global travel in the doldrums, carriers such as Air New Zealand are using their passenger planes to maintain critical shipping links.
Yang Jian
Airlines shift to cargo service to Shanghai
Ti Gong

A Boeing 787-9 passenger aircraft with Air New Zealand carrying honey, seafood and other export goods lands at the Pudong airport.

Global airlines have begun shifting their passenger flight services to cargo amid a sharp decrease in travel under the global novel coronavirus pandemic.

Air New Zealand has restored its direct flight service between Auckland and Shanghai, but instead of carrying passengers the airline is hauling export goods such as honey, seafood and milk powder.

The carrier's first two cargo flights, operated by Boeing 787-9 passenger aircraft, have already landed at the Pudong airport.

The service was launched after China announced that foreign aviation companies can keep only one route to China as part of the efforts to stem the inflow of COVID-19 cases.

The airline said the cargo services will ensure key goods such as medical supplies and food continue to flow freely in and out of New Zealand in order to keep key international airfreight links open.

"This is undoubtedly an extremely difficult time with a significant reduction in capacity due to reduced travel demand," Air New Zealand said in a statement.

Comparing with other passenger fleet models, the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner is more suitable for cargo due to its better fuel efficiency and lower carbon emission.

The aircraft can fit 11 cargo pallets, each with 12 cubic meters in volume and up to 4.6 tons in weight. That means a fully loaded Boeing 787-9 passenger aircraft can carry over 50 tons of cargo.

The new cargo service has become popular among the airline's global cargo customers wanting to ship to and from Shanghai, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Sydney and Melbourne, the carrier said.

Other foreign carriers including Singapore Airlines, United Airlines, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways have also resumed their cargo transport services between China.

Qatar Airways has announced the resumption of scheduled belly-hold cargo operations to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Chongqing with its wide-body passenger aircraft.

The initiative aims to continue supporting worldwide connectivity, reestablishing the global supply chain, and meeting the market’s strong demand for freight exports and imports, Qatar Airways said. This includes the transportation of urgent medical relief aid that is pivotal in the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the carrier said.

Airlines shift to cargo service to Shanghai
Ti Gong

A Boeing 787-9 passenger aircraft with Air New Zealand is unloaded at the Pudong airport.

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