With air cargo capacity down for much of 2020 and with much of the available capacity being used for medical supplies and pharma, perishable transportation has had to adapt.
“There has been a major impact on the capacity which could be uplifted,” explains Jason Radford, general manager of Tigers International, Perth.
Australia has maintained strict flight restrictions since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the Australian government, international scheduled passenger traffic in October 2020 was 69,030 compared to 3.587 million in October 2019, a decrease of 98.1%. Although cargo flights are still running, belly capacity has therefore been slashed.
“Since the beginning of COVID-19 flights to/from Perth, Western Australia have reduced by approximately 75% compared to the previous 12 months, therefore there has been a major impact on the capacity which could be uplifted,” Radford noted.
“Whilst the higher value products such as meat and lobsters continued to be moved some of the lower valued perishable cargo would move by seafreight or be sold on the domestic market.”
“For exports from Perth we were not affected by the inbound vaccine/medical transportation, if anything it has helped to build capacity exports from Western Australia with inbound loads full of medical therefore leaving the outbound bellyhold to be filled.”
Tigers, Perth has adapted to the changing circumstances and has been working on LCL (less than container load) for Perishable Cargo from Fremantle, Perth to Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia.
“We are of the belief that the freight rates for perishable cargo will not come down to pre-COVID rates, products will still need to move to International Markets and the only option will be seafreight so the exporters can remain competitive,” commented Radford.
Australia’s lock down is set to continue for some time, meaning it is highly unlikely belly capacity will increase. Until then, it is up to the cargo sector keep the perishables markets moving.