Release Date: 20 April 2010
Release ID: 4653
The British International Freight Association (BIFA), the trade association for UK freight forwarders, says that the unprecedented closure of European airspace is likely to lead to significant backlogs of airfreight when clearance to fly is eventually given.
Peter Quantrill, BIFA director general says: “Whilst airspace in parts of Scotland reopened today, flight restrictions remain in place for most of the UK.
“A fresh ash cloud from Iceland appears to be heading in the direction of the UK and Ireland and uncertainty remains over plans to open additional airspace. Clearly this is a dynamic and constantly changing situation and it is therefore difficult to predict what the overall impact will be.”
With many airline cargo sheds and ground handling agents not accepting freight, BIFA has been advising its members to encourage customers to retain cargo in their own premises until there is some real clarity regarding when flights are likely to resume.
"We have to be realistic. By volume, international trade in goods relies more heavily on road, rail and seafreight than it does on airfreight. However, by value airfreight is responsible for around a quarter of international trade in goods and the disruption has caused real problems for those trading perishable goods, including food and flowers, vital pharmaceuticals, important medicines, electronic components and essential spare parts which depend on air freight.
“The backlog is likely to take some considerable time, not days, to clear. Afterall, airfreight capacity was already quite tight on certain routes into and from the UK before last Thursday anyway.
”Come what may, our members will have a pivotal role in facilitating the clearance of the airfreight backlogs.”
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