How Covid-19 affected air freight and supply chains

When Boris Johnson put the UK into lockdown on the 23rd of March 2020, it had far reaching repercussions which nobody could have anticipated. As part of the lockdown measures passenger flights across the globe were grounded to contain and suppress the spread of Covid-19. However, the suspension of passenger flights caused a knock-on capacity crunch for air freight, with demand for service far outweighing the supply of active aircraft. In this blog the Energy Technology and Control experts analyse how Covid-19 affected freight transportation and how this intel can help us futureproof processes.

The below graph illustrates how suddenly flight numbers were axed, this had a swift and unwelcome effect on the availability of air freight. It is often forgotten that while a passenger planes main cargo is its civilian travellers, in the hold each plane carries numerous items of air freight, acting as an important feature of countless supply chains.

air freight

At Energy Technology and Control we routinely transport customer orders using air freight, our equipment is often small in size and light in weight, making air freight a quick and cost-effective transportation option. With so many flights grounded, demand outstripped supply resulting in freight being delayed and sitting at airports, sometimes for weeks waiting to be transported.

When dealing with small, lightweight items such as ours, shipping via boat sadly does not offer a practical alternative. We would need to fill a whole container and that would take time as well as drastically increase shipping costs.

We can’t overlook the fact that as a business we have been very lucky, we are a keyworker industry and many of our customers are also keyworkers so business has remained consistent throughout the pandemic. We can never thank our customers enough for their loyalty and resilience during these trying times. In certain cases we exit lockdown having forged a closer relationship with our customers, even if we have had to reply upon video calls and emails to facilitate this, we have pulled together to solve problems and complete projects and are right to feel a sense of achievement.

Thankfully as we exit lockdown 3.0 and follow the Government’s Covid-19 roadmap, demand for, and supply of, flights has increased.  Air freight demand has bounced back to pre-Covid levels although capacity remains tight, this increased demand combined with still-limited capacity from passenger jets, is likely to keep rates elevated for some time to come.

This has been an interesting learning curve for many businesses, and we are coming out the other side of Covid-19 with a far greater understanding of air freight processes and protocols. If you operate outside of the UK rest assured that you can trust Energy Technology and Control to deliver around the globe, if you’d like to speak to a member of our team please get in touch.