American Airlines expands cargo-only operations for essential gear—Covid-19 roundup for April 28 | 2020-04-28


American Airlines is expanding its cargo-only operations this month to transport essential telecommunications equipment and electronics between the Netherlands and the U.S. in order to keep businesses connected and informed during the Covid-19 outbreak. The cargo-only flight will operate twice weekly between Amsterdam and Dallas/Fort Worth. Without passengers onboard, each Boeing 777-300ER aircraft can carry approximately 54,000 kilograms of cargo in the belly hold.

In March, American began operating its first cargo-only flights since 1984 between DFW and Frankfurt (FRA). Since then, American has begun operating 46 weekly cargo-only flights between the U.S, Europe, Asia, and Latin America, providing more than 3 million kilograms of capacity to transport critical goods each week. In addition to AMS-DFW, American is expanding its cargo-only service to multiple destinations including DFW and Dublin (DUB); between New York (JFK) and London Heathrow (LHR), and between Miami (MIA) and Buenos Aires (EZE).

In addition to carrying the telecommunications equipment and electronics from Amsterdam, the company is moving cargo the assist the global coronavirus relief effort, including medical supplies, personal protective equipment (PPE) and pharmaceuticals, as well as essential goods including manufacturing and automotive equipment, mail, fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish.

And in other examples of the logistics industry dedicating its assets to the coronavirus fight:

  • Trucking trade group the American Trucking Associations (ATA) has partnered with Protective Insurance Co. to expand the availability and supply of hand sanitizer to truckers along major U.S. freight corridors. ATA and member-company ABF Freight are hauling ten 55-gallon drums of hand sanitizer, purchased by Protective Insurance, for distribution in eight states, where drivers will be able to refill their personal supplies at no cost. Drums are now in place at locations in Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with the remaining load in transit for delivery this week. “Crossing the bridge from crisis to recovery hinges on the integrity of our supply chain and its ability to keep moving,” ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said in a release. “Protecting America’s truck drivers, and ensuring they can stay safe and healthy while on the road, is paramount. While we continue to work with federal agencies on the strategic distribution of PPE, we’re also taking our own initiative—partnering with industry allies—to build supply networks for drivers to tap into.”
  • FedEx Corp. has unveiled an alliance with the cloud e-commerce platform provider BigCommerce, saying the deal will help brick-and-mortar businesses that have been shut down during the Covid-19 pandemic transition from running physical stores to moving their retail operations online. The two companies are collaborating on an offer for new BigCommerce customers, consisting of four months of free service with BigCommerce and discounted FedEx shipping rates. “As we all face the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, it’s even more important for small and medium businesses to be able to continue providing much-needed goods and services to their communities,” Randy Scarborough, vice president of Customer Engagement Marketing at FedEx, said in a release. “We’re proud to team up with BigCommerce to make it easier for more businesses to move online quickly so they can stay connected to commerce and deliver for their customers.”
  • Transportation information management startup Breakthrough is using its data to facilitate capacity-sharing opportunities among shippers whose supply chains have been disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Working with both its clients who express a desire to help or a need for capacity, Breakthrough is utilizing its broad set of North American transportation data to connect shippers based on their network flows and freight characteristics. Facilitating partnerships between shippers with underutilized private fleets or excess dedicated fleet capacity and shippers in need allows products in high demand to get to consumers faster, while keeping drivers of private and dedicated fleets employed during this time of uncertainty, the firm said. “As this crisis spreads across the country, we’ve all looked at our businesses to see what we can do to make a difference, and our clients, in a typically highly-competitive industry, have done just that,” Breakthrough COO Heather Mueller said in a release. “Breakthrough saw this as an opportunity to coordinate support and provide relief to shippers who need it.” 
  • Logistics robot technology provider Brain Corp. is donating $1.6 million worth of autonomous floor cleaning robots and services to essential businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. Autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) are playing a vital role in helping support essential businesses and their workers on the front lines of the health crisis, since retailers, airports, and hospitals are required to clean more frequently and deliver more cleaning coverage than usual. Autonomous floor scrubbers powered by Brain Corp.’s BrainOS software are providing more than 8,000 hours of daily work—equal to a quarter-million hours over the next 30 days—that otherwise would have to be done by an essential worker, the company said. By deploying robots, those workers are freed up to focus on other critical tasks, such as disinfecting high-contact surfaces, re-stocking, supporting customers, or even taking a much-needed break. 

To see further coverage of the coronavirus crisis and how it’s affecting the logistics industry, check out our Covid-19 landing page. And click here for our compilation of virus-focused websites and resource pages from around the supply chain sector.

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