A Sri Lankan Airlines worker gives final touches to an Airbus A330 passenger aircraft, converted into a cargo carrier, in June 2020.

Photographer: Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP via Getty Images

Cargo, one of the least glamorous aspects of flying, is proving a rare ray of light for airlines amid the coronavirus gloom.

The grounding of passenger planes at a time of increased demand for everything from medical supplies to iPhones has boosted freight rates. With much of the world’s population house-bound and shopping online instead of hitting the malls, analysts see no let up in demand, particularly as the peak year-end holiday season approaches.

“Airfreight is going to be a bright spot for carriers at least for this year because while borders are closed that doesn’t mean people aren’t buying,” said Um Kyung-a, an airline analyst at Shinyoung Securities Co. in Seoul. “That trend is likely to continue as cargo capacity remains limited.”

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