Common wisdom says the cold chain and narrow-body aircraft are incompatible, but common wisdom is wrong. Advances in cold chain technology and in the transportation industry are showing that narrow-body aircraft can offer a significant benefit for cold chain shipments. Shorter and more frequent flights, broader geographic coverage, and improved packaging enable narrow-body planes to provide cold chain service to cities that don’t support wide-body carriers.
Shippers that limit their cold chain to wide-body aircraft miss a significant portion of their market by failing to reach the airports not serviced by wide-body jumbo jets such as the Boeing 747 and other twin-aisle aircraft. According to the Global Air Cargo Advisory Group (formed by the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations, the International Air Transport Association, the Global Shippers’ Forum, and The International Air Cargo Association), 60 percent of global air freight travels on passenger planes. Within the U.S. the number is estimated at a high of 30 percent. The wide-body jets that once were common in the U.S. now have shifted to international routes, and many airports can’t handle wide-bodies. Even many routes traditionally served by narrow-body, single-aisle passenger jets such as the Boeing 737 are downsizing to smaller regional aircraft. Aviation intelligence provider OAG documents a continuing decline in airlines’ seat capacity within the U.S.