Air Partner, the global aviation services group and major air freight broker in the UK, is preparing for a possible influx of air freight requests as the country approaches the end of its transition period out of the European Union.
While at present many goods entering the UK are transported by truck into Kent via the port of Dover or the Channel Tunnel, following the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December these trucks will be subject to additional customs protocols when entering Kent. This has prompted warnings of potential queues up to 7,000 vehicles-long, which would pose significant challenges to business’s supply chains.
In this scenario Air Partner expects many businesses may need to explore alternative transport options in order to minimise disruption to supply chains. Specifically, this would lead to a surge in air freight demand due its speed and convenience, despite it typically involving a higher cost to businesses than road transport. Air freight demand may also rise as an indirect result of fewer trucks being available to businesses as they are held in queues at customs, which may have a knock-on effect beyond the UK.
Air transport for electronic goods, pharmaceuticals, and automotive parts would likely to be the most in demand because their high value nature makes this method more feasible from a cost perspective. However, Air Partner highlights there may even be a distant possibility of some lower value perishable goods, such as fruit and vegetables, needing to be transported by air or risk needing to be destroyed due to the extended time incurred by transporting them by truck.
Mike Hill, Director of Group Freight at Air Partner, said: “As one of the world’s longest standing private aviation brokers, we know from experience that businesses will turn to air freight as a method of transport at times of disrupted supply chains. We have already seen this during the Covid-19 pandemic, when for many organisations, air freight has been the only practical option to ensure their supply chains run and their businesses can continue to operate.
“The UK leaving the Brexit transition period will undoubtedly lead to significant supply chain problems and therefore an increased need for air freight. Until a longer-term solution is found, this may even result in temporary price rises for the end consumers of goods, whether that’s a relatively small percentage increase for electronics or imported vegetables increasing several-fold in price. Regardless, we are absolutely making preparations across our global network to ensure we are placed to handle a possible significant rise in freight demand from January 1st.”