The air cargo industry is facing challenges on a scale unparalleled to any other time. Air cargo from China continues to surge to meet demands for PPE, creating extremely high rates. Air carriers are pushing to add capacity to meet the spiking demand for these critical items to battle the pandemic, while ocean carriers are decreasing capacity to account for the plunge in demand for most other goods. The difference of rates between air and ocean are striking, with air rates out of China at an increase of more than 400%.
As the United States begins to recover from the pandemic, overall ocean capacity to the USWC has been reduced by 30% due to blank sailings through the end of June to account for this slump in ocean demand. Because of this, space constraints on ocean carriers is to be expected. It is recommended to place bookings at least two weeks before estimated departure dates to secure space.
Due to the magnitude of air shipments seen all over the United States, prolonged delays of a minimum of 3-4+ days are being seen with freight breakdown and availability at airlines. Additionally, the urgent demand of PPE products has tripled the number of freighter flights from China, adding to congestion and delays at airlines.
Airline ground handlers have employees that have contracted the Covid-19 virus rendering them unable to report to work with an already extremely limited workforce imposed from social distancing and lock-down sanctions. All these factors extend delays at airlines for the availability of goods. We have been working closely with all members of the supply chain to provide service to move freight and pull goods at the most expedited opportunities. We do recommend shipping with additional lead time as much as possible given all the constraints our world and our country currently face. As we continue to navigate this time, we will continue to do all we can to monitor the shipping environments and meet the needs of our clients.