The last few months have been unprecedented in world history. The pandemic that is gripping the world has spared no country, culture or corner, and it has highlighted the gaps in many companies’ crisis management plans. It’s fair to say that even the most well-prepared crisis management/business continuity planners failed to account for the full impact of a globally connected economy taking a collective “time out.” This is even more evident in the transportation industry, specifically air travel.
At the height of the crisis a full 90% of all passenger flights were grounded. This had a huge impact on air cargo space and availability, as 50% of air cargo moves via passenger airlines. Compounding space availability was the prioritization given (and rightly so) of PPE shipments to support our front-line workers, first responders and medical emergency shipments. Many companies were scrambling to find cargo space, and when they did, they paid a 10x cost premium and experienced significant backlogs.
Fortunately, we are starting to see some increased space availability as many passenger airlines have now converted portions of their fleet to be able to handle cargo in the space traditionally used for passengers. Still, we shouldn’t expect to see this additional lift reduce the stress on the system or the price of cargo too much, as the conversion rate of aircraft is still low, and the handling charges remain much higher.
There are always lessons that should be learned from any crisis. One key takeaway for any player in the transportation industry is to create flexibility and diversity in your supply chain. Use multiple carriers across the globe, leveraged by global partners with powerful and tested interconnected ground networks that can scale and provide flexibility within their own networks. Complement your selected providers with the use of integrators to ensure alternative options exist. We’re experts at this at Cryoport – we are definitely “carrier agnostic.” Our flexibility in carrier selection, paired with our strong relationships with global partners, has helped ensure our clients’ lifesaving treatments continue to move effectively around the globe under all circumstances.
As the pandemic stretches on, many industries are continuing to face unprecedented uncertainty. If your company or organization is experiencing new challenges around its temperature-sensitive logistics, I encourage you to explore our services. While we cannot predict when the pandemic will end, we have been helping our clients weather this storm, providing them the certainty and services they can depend on -- no matter what.