COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Freight-forwarder DSV Panalpina (CO:) said on Friday it would start direct cargo flights between Shanghai and Huntsville, Alabama from next week to cope with capacity constraints caused by the coronavirus outbreak in China.

The global freight industry has been hard-hit by uncertain demand and crews’ health concerns following the outbreak of the deadly virus in China, leading airlines and freight firms to scale back services, causing delivery delays and mounting backlogs.

Starting on Feb. 25, DSV plans to operate flights between Shanghai and Huntsville thrice weekly using the firm’s Boeing (NYSE:) 747-8 freighter plane, it said in a statement.

“Due to the risk of spreading of the coronavirus (COVID-19), multiple airlines have either suspended or reduced the number of flights to and from mainland China,” it said.

Crew on DSV’s plane would rest in South Korea before flying to Shanghai and would virtually not disembark the plane while in Shanghai before returning to the United States with cargo.

“By doing it this way we can safely have this setup,” Flemming Nielsen, executive vice president, told Reuters.

Last week DSV said the coronavirus was squeezing air and sea freight capacity, but that it was still possible to ship goods on airplanes to countries neighboring China and fly them out from there.

DSV said it estimates capacity has shrunk by 5,000 tons a day due to the suspension of flights to China.

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2020-02-21