Air Partner sees spike in charter markets as COVID-19 cripples commercial flights

Mar 17, 2020: Following growing constraints on logistics due to measures imposed to contain COVID-19, Air Partner is imploring companies to book air cargo transport in advance to secure availability and keep their supply chains moving.

“With nearly 60 years of experience in global aviation, Air Partner has incredibly strong supplier relations and in times of crisis, we do everything imaginable to ensure our clients can keep their businesses moving,” said Air Partner’s CEO Mark Briffa. “We’re seeing a spike in air freight service requests as many commercial flights are being grounded and at a time when Chinese industrial production is restarting after a month-long shutdown. There is still immediate charter availability, but we foresee that could change in the coming weeks.”

Air Partner has issued key updates about the aircraft charter solutions during the changing global market:

Availability: Air Partner has access to any freight aircraft between Europe and North America or between Europe and China, or South East Asia, at a moment’s notice. While travel restrictions are rapidly changing, Air Partner foresees that may continue to evolve in the coming weeks. If availability does decrease, prices will surge. As such, to reduce risk and guarantee availability, Air Partner recommends companies secure aircraft charter solutions as soon as they are needed.

Price surge: Freight rates from China have already begun to increase as demand increases. Rates from China to Europe jumped by 15.8 percent compared with the prior seven days to $2.71 per kilogram. Meanwhile, prices from Hong Kong to North America increased by 11.5 percent week on week to $3.59 per kilogram and there was a 3.2 percent increase to $2.58 per kilogram on services to Europe.

Demand and capacity for Europe: With the current travel ban on passenger transport between Europe and the US since March 12, passenger airlines have been forced to reduce services dramatically. This caused an immediate and ongoing negative impact on capacity and significant increase in pricing for transatlantic cargo capacity for at least the next 30 days.

Demand and capacity for Asia: China continues to experience significant capacity reductions and available cargo capacity from China was down 39 percent versus last year. Flight cancellations on routes to China have removed close to 5,000 tons per day of capacity, with belly capacity down by 85 percent and main deck capacity down by 12 percent. Due to the demand in the market, Boeing 747F, Boeing 777F and MD-11 are the first aircraft affected by availability fluctuations.

Airline suspensions: More than 40 airlines have temporarily suspended operations to and from China to-date and this is likely to continue to rise with no estimated date to recommence commercial airline operations.

China production: With China beginning to slowly ramp up production again, it will take some time for scheduled freight operators to readjust their capacities to normal schedule. Charter service can cover this shortfall.

Airport operations in China: Air Partner is seeing a reduction in slots across China. For example, the Shanghai Pudong Airport (PVG) is reducing services and moving operations to other alternate airports in China such as Changsha Huanghua International Airport (CSX), Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport (CGO), Ningbo Lishe International Airport (NGB) and Sunan Shuofang International Airport (WUX).

During the coronavirus outbreak, Air Partner has seen a large increase in urgent freight requests from companies seeking to transport a number of different commodities between Europe, North America and Asia. Most recently, Air Partner delivered medical kits on a citation jet from Italy to a cruise ship in Spain and 70 tonnes of automotive parts from Germany to the US. For another mission Air Partner transported on a series of charters, hand sanitizer and hygiene supplies from the US to China as businesses in China must comply with increased sanitation regulation standards. All permits, loading and compulsory processes were handled by Air Partner to ensure smooth running of the operation. The dedicated freight team was on-site for the loading and coordination of the aircraft handling.