Heathrow delays : Air cargo forwarders suffer

Heathrow delays, isn’t that just the norm. Ask any freight forwarder or Air cargo haulier based around London Heathrow and they will confirm it is always slow. This time of year the pre christmas rush always exacerbates these issues. Cargo forwarders at Heathrow are presently reporting long queues for cargo collections but is this year worse than any other. Certainly the notice issued by Thai Airlines two weeks ago confirming they were closed for both import and exports at Worldwide Flight Services ( WFS ) paints a poor picture. This time last year we reported on the issues at Heathrow and although these eased they never went completely away.

Are Heathrow delays any worse than normal

A good question and usually a hard one to answer. Presently retailers and manufacturers are desperate for stock to satisfy the demand for Black Friday. As the popularity and importance of black Friday increases so does the demand on airfreight. Black Friday’s positioning this close to the festive peak season certainly doesn’t help spread out the demand across the year. Couple this with dedicated chartered freighters and it’s not difficult to see why the system would get close to breaking point. The present logjam in shipping and disastrous container haulage situation has increased the pressure even further on UK airports. Goods which have been rolled from vessels and the risk of vessels skipping Felixstowe makes air the obvious choice. Especially whilst ocean freight pricing remains at extremely high levels.

Haulier asked to deliver in exports 48 hours in advance of flights

Air cargo hauliers at London Heathrow are requesting cargo a minimum of 48 hours in advance of the normal delivery in time in order that they can negotiate with handling agents for exports. Trying to ensure cargo is delivered into the handling agent well ahead of flights. Allowing significant extra time for pallet build to make flights. This appears to be a demand due to a lack of both cargo space and a shortage of staff to handle the cargo

Is it all handling agents

We are told it is not all airline handling companies but the system is clearly struggling. For import cargo extended check-in times are becoming the norm. From 5 hours we are now seeing a trebling of time to pallet strip and set Status 1 on cargo. Some freight companies are advising they have waited days for shipments in some instances. As always it is the freight forwarder that suffers. Caught between the Airline and it’s handling company and the just in time culture of both imports & exports in the UK.

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