Clearing the ash-induced back-log

The six-day shut-down of Europeanairspace due to the Icelandicvolcano eruption saw tonnes ofcargo piling up around Asia – a boon forcharter operators and bane for shipperswho, in many cases saw premium ratesbeing charged to clear the backlog. In some cases, freight rates to Europe jumped to nearly 100 Hong Kong dollars (US$13.30) per kilogramme, from […]


The six-day shut-down of Europeanairspace due to the Icelandicvolcano eruption saw tonnes ofcargo piling up around Asia – a boon forcharter operators and bane for shipperswho, in many cases saw premium ratesbeing charged to clear the backlog.

In some cases, freight rates to Europe jumped to nearly 100 Hong Kong dollars (US$13.30) per kilogramme, from less than 30 dollars before the closure of airports in Europe, according to the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council. Sunny Ho, council executive director, said many Hong Kong exporters “would be in trouble” for failing to deliver goods ranging from high-end fashion to automobile parts on dates specified in contracts with buyers. “It is difficult for airlines to clear all the backlog they have accumulated in a short time,” Ho said, according to AFP.

In Hong Kong Air cargo carriers are charging Hong Kong exporters a premium to clear their backlog as thousands of tonnes of goods are estimated stuck at warehouses after volcanic ash closed European skies.

“No one expected that airports would be forced to close because of volcanic ash. Exporters may have to pay compensation or charge less for their goods if they don’t have a clause in the contract to exclude their liability under such condition.” Ho said some exporters had chosen to ship goods by sea instead. “But you can’t do it with perishable goods – it takes more than 20 days to send them by sea, compared toonly one day by plane.”