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Commercial Flights and the Global PPE Supply Chain



Chances are you have probably flown on a commercial flight at least once. It can be quite an exciting or intimidating experience, depending on your point of view. But have you ever thought about what else is going along for the ride on that flight with you? Specifically, what is under your feet in the cargo hold of that commercial flight?


The natural assumption is simply baggage for the passengers on that flight. Most of us are probably aware that when you check a bag, the airport routes your bag to the plane, and baggage handlers load your bag along with all the other passenger's bags under the plane for storage during the flight. Would you be surprised to know that there's more than just passenger baggage under your feet? Much more, actually.


With fewer and fewer passengers checking baggage on flights, airlines began looking for ways to commercialize the unused space in their cargo holds. They quickly realized that they could sell that unused space to customers looking to ship freight to and from destinations the airlines were already flying.


The freight forwarding industry jumped at the opportunity to broker unused airline cargo space with customers needing to ship cargo, and now 45% of global air freight is carried by US airlines, according to the US International Air Passenger and Freight Statistics Report. And there's more than just consumer good freight being flown in cargo holds -- unexpected items like deceased human remains are also flown in the holds of commercial flights (in fact, some estimates say as many as 50,000 dead bodies are flown every year).


What does this have to do with the PPE supply chain?


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on air travel worldwide. Estimates show that air passenger traffic is down 95%, and more than half of the world's passenger airplanes are grounded. And now that you know commercial flights make up almost half the capacity of international freight shipping, the massive reduction in flights has resulted in an unprecedented capacity constraint that no one could have predicted.


Almost overnight, the global capacity to ship freight was drastically reduced, forcing shippers to turn to more traditional methods such as water and rail shipping, both of which are much more constrained and can take weeks, if not months, to ship the same amount of goods. What this means is that even if a manufacturer or distributor had PPE or other healthcare goods available, it became much more difficult to get that equipment to the front-line workers who needed it.


Moreover, the reduction in air freight capacity has also contributed to the spike in price seen in the global PPE market. Industry experts cite a more than 4-fold increase in the cost of air cargo along many major routes. Unfortunately for many hospitals and healthcare purchasing organizations, these added costs are being passed directly to them in previously unheard-of price increases.


Enter a solution: HyperClear.


Now, more than ever, the worldwide medical device marketplace needs more traceability and transparency when it comes to the devices and equipment moving around the globe. HyperClear uses our blockchain platform to track individual medical devices all the way from manufacturer, through multiple distribution channels, and finally to the doctors and end users. No longer do hospitals have to be concerned about the authenticity and safety of the devices they are purchasing. With HyperClear, devices between organizations are linked on our secure, centralized blockchain to ensure the equipment you are purchasing is exactly what you need.


Are you a hospital or healthcare organization in need of additional equipment? Are you a manufacturer or distributor able to provide life-saving devices to the front-lines? Contact us today to find out how HyperClear can benefit you and your organization!

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