Severe congestion across major airports appears to be hampering air cargo volumes. Dynamic week-on-week global load factors fell 1.5%, in the week to 10 November, according to the latest research from Clive Data Services.
Severe congestion across major airports appears to be hampering air cargo volumes.
Dynamic week-on-week global load factors fell 1.5%, in the week to 10 November, according to the latest research from Clive Data Services.
The same week saw a 5.5% fall in global capacity, which should indicate higher load factors – but it seems demand fell.
While, anecdotally, forwarders are reporting strong demand for air freight as the peak season takes off, the data suggests congestion on the ground is curbing volumes.
“There is a lot of congestion – in Melbourne, Baku and Chennai, as well as Europe and the US,” said one forwarder. “In fact, it seems to be any city with a large piece of tarmac that a plane lands on.
“And charters are currently being refused as congestion is not allowing them to be discharged.
“But there is definitely higher demand. That is happening. Sea freight disruption and schedule failure are creating distressed ocean freight, and conversion to air freight – whether to get consumer products into stores for Christmas or components for manufacturing – has accelerated.
“Even Fireman Sam couldn’t dampen this crisis. It’s what happens normally at this time of year, but on steroids.”
Clive data shows volumes out of Shanghai – which has been restricted during China’s International Import Expo, with permission for charters denied – fell 16%, while southern China volumes fell 12%. Hong Kong appeared to take up some of the slack, with volumes up 16%.
And volumes out of Europe fell 10%.
Niall van de Wouw, MD of Clive, said: “The congestion, which looks likely to be curbing growth, is the price the industry has to pay for the lack of investment in, and appreciation of, cargo handling.”
Airports across the US and Europe, notably JFK in New York, Heathrow and Frankfurt, are facing severe delays as handlers battle a shortage of labour. But according to Fraport, the operator of Frankfurt Airport, there are other issues preventing the fast processing of shipments.
“The character of freight transport has changed, with persistently high volumes becoming the new normal for both scheduled and charter traffic,” explained a spokesperson. “In addition, there has been a huge increase in the volumes of small consignments, which are personnel- and time-intensive. The dynamics of aviation have been changing rapidly since the pandemic hit.”
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