Planes are now packed with parcels and packages along with people
DALLAS (AP) _ Passenger airlines are already filled with customers and luggage so there is little room to add cargo from the strike at United Parcel Service.
``We are taking some UPS packages,″ said American Airlines spokesman John Hotard. ``But because of peak summer travel, not only are our cabins full, but the lower deck is full too with bags, mail and our own cargo.″
American, similar to other airlines, doesn’t operate a separate fleet for parcels and packages. It carries cargo in its passenger planes.
Last year, American Airlines, based in Ft. Worth, Texas, had $13.65 billion in revenues from its passenger business, compared with $682 million for cargo.
The strike by the Teamsters union against UPS entered its third day Wednesday. The company was delivering less than 10 percent of the packages it would handle on a normal business day. No talks were scheduled to try to resolve the dispute.
Steve Alterman, president of the Cargo Airline Association, said UPS uses trucks to carry most of its packages, and it is unlikely passenger airlines could make up the difference.
``They’re flying fairly full with their customers,″ he said. ``There isn’t the ability to capture the massive overflow.″
He said the walkout shows the U.S. economy has become dependent on the all-cargo industry to move the nation’s commerce. ``Any event that prohibits them from doing that is a problem for all business,″ he said.
Some airlines reported they are flying more freight.
America West, which flies about 57 million pounds of cargo annually, has seen a 20 percent increase in freight shipments in the last few days.
``Our three most hot markets because of the strike are Phoenix, Los Angeles and Las Vegas,″ said Dianne Segura, spokeswoman for the Phoenix-based airline.
Ms. Segura said America West attributes the increase to the carrier’s frequency of flights to West Coast cities.
Cargo shipments on Continental Airlines have shot up by about a third.
``We’ve seen about a 30 percent increase in our quick-pack shipments as well as mail,″ said spokeswoman Karla Villalon at the Houston-based carrier. ``That increase is similar to our Christmas volumes.″
Southwest Airlines, based in Dallas, said it has received increased requests from passengers to carry cargo aboard planes.
``Business was already pretty good, but where we have space we’ll get it there,″ said spokesman Ed Stewart. ``If there’s any room in the belly, we’ll take it.″