As Hawaiian Travel Ticks Up, Cargo Capacity Climbs

By Ryan Owens :: April 20, 2021

As more people receive the first and second doses of the vaccine, travel is slowly starting to pick up to Hawaii. Vacations, travel, and leisure activities were hit hard by the global pandemic last year and finally, there is a light at the end of the tunnel showing the hardest times are past. For the Hawaiian islands, the isolation that accompanied COVID-19 severely threatened the tourism industry, but allowed for some other industries to flourish and gave the area a much-needed break from visitors so they could look at how tourism impacts the state and better ways to move forward. Now that the vaccines are in distribution, the return to global travel gives some grand opportunities to build new, strong, and ecologically sound plans for managing tourism and supporting the economy equally.

When tourism takes a break, cargo shipments are deeply impacted as we’ve seen this past year. With fewer flights traveling into and out of Hawaiian airports, the space available for cargo shriveled up allowing only for cargo-only flights or passenger aircraft were reconfigured to ship cargo as so-called “pfreighters” when a mad dash rush to find capacity hit alongside the virus. For shippers in Hawaii, that severely limited the options for sending goods out and bringing goods in. 

It’s not only consumer goods that are more easily available when passenger flights are increasing; medical supplies, home goods, technology, and construction equipment might not normally travel by passenger planes, but the consumer goods that do use passenger flights will no longer be taking valuable cargo space leaving the space open for shipments that either can’t fly on a passenger plane like electronics with certain batteries or won’t fit like equipment that requires a true freighter with main-deck capacity. 

As Hawaii returns to previous tourism levels, the economy will be bolstered by the changes made during the pandemic, including a move to more green tourism and a renewed focus on eco-friendly small farms, and an increased interest in island sustainability which helped carry the area through isolation. These industries will benefit from supported flights out of Hawaii, carrying Hawaiian products around the world, and increasing the livelihoods of people working to find income opportunities in exporting their goods and foods. 

Global demand hasn’t dropped during the travel reduction. There’s more demand than ever as online shopping surges and imports flood into the US mainland. As more vaccinations happen and travelers are reassured they can move about in safety, the opportunity for Hawaiian producers to join the export market is expanding. 

CFI has been working in conjunction with the people of Hawaii to navigate their shipments and bring in cargo despite the issues we’ve faced. It’s our responsibility to provide safe, value-driven solutions for the shipping needs in Hawaii as well as provide a cost-effective option for Hawaiian producers to sell and market their products around the world. If you want to discuss the options we have for shippers via Hawaii, your CFI representative is waiting for you to call and say, “Aloha!”

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