airport snow© Jeff Schultes
© Jeff Schultes

“Quite literally, this is now the perfect storm.”

Continued strong air freight demand and the resulting lack of capacity has been exacerbated by severe weather across Europe.

This morning, Air France-KLM Cargo sent a note to customers warning of “serious disruptions in our operations”, due to heavy snow in Amsterdam. It added that they would be informed of re-bookings through the carrier’s ‘notify me system’.

One weary European forwarder said: “If it’s not the high demand or undercapacity due to crappy cargo aircraft, then the weather will eventually get you.”

Some 600 flights were cancelled yesterday at Schiphol, which said teams had been working all night to clear the snow. Brussels Airport was also affected and warned that there would be more cancellations today after some 200 flights failed to operate yesterday.

More than 300 flights at Frankfurt were cancelled over the weekend and snow at Heathrow also caused air freight disruption.

However, UK operations have now re-started. IAG Cargo issued a statement to customers saying: “We are pleased to inform you that as of today, we are operating a full long-haul schedule.”

East Midlands Airport was also disrupted over the weekend, but flights are now operating, albeit with some delays, according to the airport.

France has also been affected – the port of Calais was closed yesterday and motorways between Calais and Boulogne were also shut.

In the US, Delta was forced to cancel around 1,350 flights on Friday and Saturday after a snowstorm hit its Atlanta hub.

These disruptions come as the air freight peak continues beyond the slowdown expected to begin on December 10.

“It’s still busy and congested,” said the forwarder. “The peak is ongoing – there is still lots of e-commerce and other business in the market.”

He predicted that things would slow over the Christmas and new year period, when companies would only have a skeleton staff on duty, but added: ”It will come back with a vengeance in January.”

Heathrow said this morning it was expecting more than 143 million kg of Christmas cargo in the month leading up to December 25: “a record to date”. It pointed to year-on-year growth in Christmas lights, lobsters and calendars. Its top five export destinations outside the EU were the US, China, UAE, Australia and Hong Kong. 

Tomorrow: air freight, e-commerce and 2018…

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