- UPS has added more than 200 company-owned and chartered cargo flights in April to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Project Airbridge "and other healthcare-related missions," according a press release Friday. A majority of the new flights will ferry products from Asia to the U.S. and Europe, UPS said.
- Cargo will include personal protective equipment (PPE), ventilators, emergency room monitoring equipment, test kits and other supplies to aid global coronavirus response efforts, the company said. UPS also touted its ability "to transport specialized products, such as temperature sensitive compounds."
- FedEx confirmed to Supply Chain Dive Monday that it added 150 flights for April to carry PPE, medical supplies and "other essential items" from Asia to the U.S. Although FedEx did not link the activity directly to Project Airbridge, the carrier is participating in the FEMA program.
As demand for passenger flights has dropped dramatically, so has capacity on the belly space of passenger planes — which shippers and forwarders traditionally rely heavily upon to move airfreight. The Federal Aviation Administration released guidance Wednesday on safe carriage of cargo in a passenger plane, but many global airlines were already engaging in the practice.
On Thursday, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) called for governments to provide better support to airlines shifting focus and equipment from passengers to cargo.
"Airlines are providing as much capacity as they can. Governments need to step up and ensure that vital supply lines remain open and efficient and that there is adequate infrastructure and support available in the air and on the ground," IATA Global Head of Cargo Glyn Hughes said in a statement.
FEMA has asked industry to help with capacity through Project Airbridge.
FedEx Express announced it had transported more than 450,000 protective suits from Vietnam to Texas April 8, in its first shipments under the project.
By then, UPS flights for Project Airbridge had already begun arriving. Originally, UPS contributed 25 flights, that it also managed and brokered, slated to carry more than 3 million pounds of masks, surgical gowns, gloves, medical swabs and thermometers.
"Our service levels are hitting highs that we haven't had in over a decade," said President of UPS Airlines Brendan Canavan in a company sound bite, adding deliveries are quicker and "more accurate than [they have] ever been."