Despite the fact that the PPE market had a huge success before the pandemic, COVID-19 pandemic certainly had a negative impact on it. Chapman Freeborn, an air charter broker and a subsidiary of Avia Solutions Group is currently facing new challenges.

The company’s data shows the lull in the PPE market in the last 4-5 weeks where the demand has dropped to a reduced amount, less than the company experienced in March and April, however, the demand for pure freighter aircraft has not decreased.

The demand for freighters is being affected by a combination of re-supply for PPE, Black Friday, and last quarter peak season traffic, especially with new product launches in time for Christmas.

Forwarders are using and securing medium-term leases on Chapman Freeborn’s managed aircraft, providing their clients with a secured/regular service, by securing capacity now should there be a sudden influx in vaccine logistics. Some of these agreements with the forwarders are securing the capacity well into 2021, with the option to extend and ‘lock-in’ the capacity if demand persists.

“The demand for long-term aircraft wet-lease contracts has increased by 200%. The requests have all been for a fully dedicated aircraft (and utilisation) for a minimum of 12 months, from mid-size freighters such as the A330F to the B777F and B747F”, says Pierre Vanders, Group Director of Cargo Operations at Chapman Freeborn.

All in all, the use of (P2F) passenger aircraft converted for freighters will persist and probably increase once an effective vaccine is launched on the market. However, if a second Covid-19 wave takes place, together with mixed with reduced freighter capacity, peak season, and a potential new vaccine launch, the cargo industry could see a real shortage of capacity. Only the timing of events will define what the cargo industry will look like for the last quarter of 2020 and the financial year 2021.