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Air-sea freight combination could ease virus-struck air cargo capacity squeeze

AIR and sea combined transportation solutions could help ease air freight capacity shortages and take the lid off freight rate spikes, as factories in China resume production following the extended Lunar New Year holiday period

16 February 2020 - 19:00

AIR and sea combined transportation solutions could help ease air freight capacity shortages and take the lid off freight rate spikes, as factories in China resume production following the extended Lunar New Year holiday period.

With passenger demand nosediving due to the spread of the coronavirus, airlines have responded by slashing capacity on China and Hong Kong services.



Freighter operators are still flying to and from China but some scheduled maindeck services have also been cut, reported London's Air Cargo News.



Given that ocean freight services from China to Europe take around one month, and voyage times from China to North America can take a couple of weeks, Metro Shipping business development director Grant Liddell suggested that air-sea solutions could provide an alternative to pure air or ocean freight.



He explained that using ocean transport to move the goods to a transshipment point, before flying to destination, could prove attractive for semi-urgent shipments that want to avoid any air freight price surges or space shortages, but can't afford to wait for the containerships to arrive.



Mr Liddell said that Metro Shipping uses Singapore as its transshipment point for air-sea cargo and at present passenger operators are still flying to and from the city state.



Singapore is ten days quicker than the traditional air-sea hub of Dubai, adding value and speed, he said.



Mr Liddell added that it could be more than a week until capacity shortages really start to be felt in airfreight.



He explained that at the moment most production sites were still not back online in China and therefore hardly any airfreight is moving.



Meanwhile, statistics from CLIVE Data Services shows that air cargo volumes heading into China now exceed those coming out of the country.



CLIVE Data Services managing director Niall van de Wouw said: 'This latest data for January 6 - February 9 is especially revealing because it shows that the reduction of airline capacity, compounded with the further decrease of air freight volumes out of China, has resulted in the dynamic load factor from Europe and Middle East to China and Hong Kong being higher than the westbound load factor.'



'This is arguably reversing a trend that has existed for the last 15-20 years of market analysis.'


WORLD SHIPPING

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