Unable to fill planes with passengers as the coronavirus destroys travel demand, airlines are instead using their fleets to transport more cargo, including medicines, smartphones and Korean strawberries.

The likes of Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd., Korean Air Lines Co. and American Airlines Group Inc. are hauling a greater amount of goods in the bellies of their planes to keep up with demand. Cargo rates have risen over 10 percent in recent weeks as some companies are prepared to pay more to ship goods after drastic cuts in passenger flights left them with less capacity to haul cargo.

Airlines typically don’t operate in this fashion. Yet they are desperate to use whatever capacity they can for cargo as earnings from passenger operations have almost vanished with traffic down 90 percent. Though travel has been decimated, global trade continues, especially with factories reopening in China and demand surging for medical supplies to fight the pandemic.