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Transatlantic capacity dearth disrupts operations of parcel shippers

US package shippers continue to face disruption on the transatlantic trade lane as the US Postal Service (USPS) battles against the air cargo capacity shortage

04 June 2020 - 19:06

US package shippers continue to face disruption on the transatlantic trade lane as the US Postal Service (USPS) battles against the air cargo capacity shortage.

One shipper said USPS distribution times between the US and Europe have increased from around two weeks to between five-10 weeks since the outbreak of the coronavirus.



The space shortage comes as passenger airlines that supplied the majority of the trade lane's cargo capacity have heavily reduced services as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, reports London's Air Cargo News.



Todd Bisson, owner of 80 Proof Media Services, a company that sells products online, said that the 'rate of undelivered packages has skyrocketed from an irritating but manageable 2-3 per cent to an existential threatening 20-25 per cent'.



'Further grist for anxiety on the part of merchants and their shipping partners is that it would appear that newer inventory that arrives at USPS is getting out of the country while older inventory just sits somewhere gathering dust,' he added.



He said that USPS claimed to have chartered aircraft over recent weeks to help clear up the backlog, but added 'going by the tracking on hundreds of packages my company has stuck in this holding pattern, perhaps 10 per cent of the backlog has been dealt with'.



In response a USPS spokesperson reiterated that it had chartered aircraft and was also utilising ocean freight to try and clear the backlog, London's Air Cargo News reported.



'The Postal Service is heavily reliant on commercial carriers for international mail transport. We have seen delays internationally due to lack of air transportation when passenger volumes dropped.



'As a result, a significant amount of air transport was lost. We are chartering multiple flights to multiple parts of world, such as Australia, Europe, and Brazil.



'In limited instances we have utilised sea transportation to address shipping delays. The Postal Service is committed to assisting businesses impacted by the pandemic.'



Capacity between North America and Europe has shown little signs of increasing over the last few weeks and is far behind the year-ago level.



The latest data from Accenture's Seabury Consulting shows that eastbound transatlantic capacity was last week 52 per cent down on a year ago, compared with 54 per cent in mid-May.


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