Peak cargo season is here. Chapman Freeborn’s Group Cargo Operations Director, Pierre Van Der Stichele, explains everything you need to know
Peak cargo season is well and truly now upon us, and you would be correct to wonder if it’s not a bit too early for that. Usually, it’s October that the industry really begins to ramp up, but this year it’s a very different situation. Not only is it the earliest peak season we’ve ever experienced, but it’s also likely to be the busiest.
Group Cargo Operations Director at Chapman Freeborn, Pierre Van Der Stichele, is here to explain the current situation.
What is peak cargo season?
“Peak cargo season is characterised by its proximity to some of the biggest gift-giving and food-eating events in the global calendar”, Pierre explains, “Coming up we have many global festivities all of which are associated with shopping. Whether it’s presents, clothes, electronics or perishables, most of us will be shopping online and in supermarkets more than usual between now and the end of the year. This is where the industry peaks and demand become at the highest point in the year.”
Why is it so busy this year and what is causing the early peak?
Usually, peak season is busy, but not so busy that the industry is unable to cope. Pierre says “Usually around 35% of the world’s cargo flies in passenger planes. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has grounded many passenger flights, meaning that this cargo space is currently unavailable. We are in a scenario where most of the widebody freighters have been committed by the top forwarders well in advance and express courier companies are on long term programmes leaving very little cargo charter capacity. “
“Other factors affecting our industry is the seaport congestion and the rapid upsurge in demand for e-commerce. This is all expedited by the spread of the virus hitting the workers at the Chinese cargo hubs. Many of the airport staff affected by Covid have had to enter precautionary self-isolation which is providing staff shortages at airport warehouses. Consequently, some airports have had to refuse the handling of some cargo flights, compounding the issue.”
What does this mean for the customer and the rates?
Supply and demand have resulted in prices for cargo transportation skyrocketing; “Prices have at least tripled for capacity at this time of year.”
Pierre and his team of air cargo experts are seeing other air chartering companies charging unprecedented pricing in the industry at present.
“I think it’s fair to say that on most sectors from China to USA and Europe is well above the $ 1 million mark entering the peak season. We’ve seen one-way rates for a 100-ton aircraft ranging between $1.2 and 1.9m already.”
How do you see the new transformed Preighter helping the industry right now?
“Within our parent company, Avia Solutions Group, Smartlynx, our sister company have several aircraft recently transformed into Preighters with five units of the A330-300 which are all participating and are flying in peak season traffic.
Some carriers are only now introducing the seat removal procedure to turn aircraft into Preighters.
It’s a fine balance because right now we are starting to see an increase in passengers being allowed to fly, more services and routes are being added every week as the world is succeeding with controlling the pandemic however, we are entering the winter peak season.
The fine line is deciding if further freighter conversions take place to support the cargo surge – this very much depends on the passenger market. “
What sets Chapman Freeborn apart?
“Chapman Freeborn is part of Avia Solutions Group; a family of aviation companies comprising of nearly 100 offices across 5 continents. We have global connections and fleets of aircraft including thousands of expert colleagues we can specifically call upon for support during this busy time.
Magma Aviation has a fleet of Boeing 747-400F aircraft, Chapman Freeborn OBC are our onboard courier experts who specialise in transporting goods around the world, SmartLynx Airlines have their own Airbus A321F aircraft, and there are many more examples of companies in the ASG family that Chapman Freeborn can work with to ensure cost-effective cargo solutions, even during the busiest and most expensive period we’ve ever seen.”