Airbridges for England mean cargo should start flying

Airbridges as expected have been put in place which is great news for passengers. These are also excellent news for air cargo into the UK. With countries having been graded by infection rate transhipment points will become accessible.

Countries which immediately look well placed with good links into the UK are :

  • France
  • Germany
  • Hong Kong
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey

Not an exhaustive list but these countries open up the Far East to the opportunity of further reducing rates. With passengers on board you would anticipate these country rates to be the first to reduce to manageable levels. With onward connections from all five into China and the Far East rates may reduce considerably in the coming weeks. Presently airlines have managed to hold capacity below industry requirements. Thus keeping rates high as flights move relatively full. Now though as areas begin to compete competitively for passengers cargo may well be the benefactor.

What are airbridges

Airbridges quite simply is a route between two countries where restrictions are lower. Originally the plan was that airbridges would be between countries with no restriction on passengers upon arrival. These countries would have extremely low COVID19 cases. This has now been widened to include some countries, New Zealand as an example, who may have some restrictions. What it does mean, any passenger from any country which is covered by an airbridge doesn’t have to isolate for 14 days if staying in England.

Hopefully as travel kick-starts to and from these countries flights will increase and passenger numbers will gain momentum.

Why is that good news for cargo

Despite the risk that cargo is off-loaded due to high passenger numbers there will be more flights for that cargo. Passengers also contribute for the cost of the flight and pay a much higher price than cargo. More passengers have always meant cheaper freight rates. This is unlikely to change and the airlines themselves may sense an opportunity thanks to airbridges. Turkish Airlines has pushed hard over the last few years to become a reliable transhipment hub. With the country obtaining an airbridge early they may decide to push that advantage. Reducing rates as passengers come back to challenge the Middle East hubs of Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

What will be just as interesting is the USA. With high virus numbers and spikes in particular states they are unlikely to obtain unrestricted travel to the UK any time soon. It may well be that those airlines with US services over transhipment hubs can offer reduced rates to compete with the US direct flights. Germany and France in particular have flights into the USA with good onward links into the UK.

The above at the moment is all guesswork and surmisation. Relying on passenger numbers and people’s willingness to travel. It is what the airlines are looking for and freight forwarders should benefit.

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