The number of Qatar Airways Cargo destinations has doubled from 63 in 2019–20 to 122 in 2020–21, according to Qatar Airways Group Sustainability Report.
Cargo flights increased from pre-Covid operations of up to 60 flights a day (freighter only) to 180 flights a day during Covid (freighter and belly hold).
During the period of March–June 2020, Qatar Airways’ share of the air cargo market increased significantly.
Based on the International Air Transport Association statistics, Qatar Airways became the largest cargo airline in the world (excluding express operator FedEx).
The addition of 30 new destinations to its network by June 2020 contributed to its ability to move cargo in response to increased market demand.
In January 2021, Qatar Airways Cargo added three brand new Boeing 777 freighters to its fleet to support the national airline’s long-haul scheduled routes as well as cargo charters.
As the pandemic progressed, Qatar Airways Cargo helped transport essential supplies, pharmaceuticals, perishables and other vital cargo around the world. It continued to operate its scheduled freighters while operating more than 500 freight charters of relief goods, personal protective equipment and medical aid to impacted countries.
Qatar Airways noted the global pandemic affected its cargo operations. Ground handlers reduced the number of aircraft they were able to service, along with travel restrictions and operational uncertainty contributed to flight cancellations.
Cargo operations adapted to effectively and efficiently maintain a state of readiness for its customers and partners. Its network planning was coordinated to maximise belly hold carriage whilst working with reduced manpower.
Other adaption and response measures included the conversion of six B777-300ER into mini-freighters and the rotation of fleet.
According to IATA, airlines transport over 52mn metric tonnes of goods a year, representing more than 35% of global trade by value but less than 1% of world trade by volume.
With a value of more than $6.8tn worth of goods transported annually, air cargo is a critical enabler of global trade. Cargo is essential for the swift transportation of critical time-sensitive goods and materials such as vaccines, medical supplies and equipment, thereby supporting the global supply chains.
As of March 2021, air cargo continued to expand strongly with industry-wide cargo tonne-kilometres rising by 4.4% compared pre-crisis levels.