The container shipping sector in the past few months has experienced major supply chain issues due to a box shortage in Asia, a surge in demand and port congestion.
Air Partner chief executive Mark Briffa said: 'As a result of issues affecting global shipping at the moment, transporting cargo via sea transportation is proving extremely challenging for businesses and supply chains, so we are experiencing a growing number of enquiries for air charter.
'Currently around 50 per cent of business in our freight division is coming from transporting goods that would usually go via sea transportation. While the main industries turning to air charter are energy, automotive, aerospace and marine, we are also seeing interest from some major UK retailers that want to minimise disruption to their supply chains.'
Some forwarders are hoping that the two week Chinese New Year holiday break, starting February 12, will give shipping lines and ports the chance to catch up, reports London's Air Cargo News.
In its latest ocean market update, rate portal Freightos' research lead Judah Levine said: 'The unrelenting surge of ocean volumes continues to cause port congestion and delays that have plagued the industry since November. Though there are signs that the resulting empty container shortage may be starting to ease, it is unlikely to disappear until demand eases.
'A recent outbreak of Covid-19 infections among LA/Long Beach dock workers may even make the situation worse at the already-overwhelmed port.'
Air Partner also noted an increase in enquiries as a result of the UK leaving the European Union. Mr Briffa explained that navigating and understanding post-Brexit customs protocols for importing and exporting goods via sea or ground transportation to/from the UK is proving 'extremely challenging for businesses'.
'In the past week we have seen an uptick in enquiries from businesses who had stockpiled goods in the run up to Brexit and are now needing to restock as these supplies are beginning to dwindle. We are preparing for this trend to continue in the coming weeks,' he said.
In January, logistics firm DB Schenker and parcel firm DPD put their road operations between the EU and UK on hold for a few days as they dealt with incorrect or missing paperwork.
Air Charter Service also reported a gradual increase in demand as a result of the stoppages.