US West Coast port jam benefits air cargo

An industrial dispute which has effectively brought America’s West Coast ports to a standstill is providing a boost to trans-pacific airfreight operations.


ANA HACTL Mark Whitehead Pacific Maritime Association West Coast port


An industrial dispute which has effectively brought America’s West Coast ports to a standstill is providing a boost to trans-pacific airfreight operations.

Whilst the congestion has seen extra lift being moved across the Pacific it is hard to quantify exactly how much.

“It’s positive but not dramatic,” Mark Whitehead, chief executive of Hong Kong Air Cargo Terminals (HACTL) told Payload Asia in a February 13 phone interview.

“Obviously it’s good for us,” Whitehead said.

The blockages at ports are producing some eye-striking sights and headlines. McDonalds  moved over 1,000 tons of frozen French fries to Japan via air and KFC is restricting portions and some brands as potatoes cannot be moved from clogged us ports.

The American Defense Department has also airshipped dairy products to its forces in Korea and Japan.

Products such as these do not usually merit the extra expense of airfreight but major companies have branding and reputational issues to deal with which requires making available a full range of products and services.

On the East-West route the dynamics are different and maybe stronger.

The congestion at the port has occurred at the same time as American consumers are resurgent with the car industry a good. Car sales are picking up but many of the parts are produced overseas, demand in America cannot be met unless increasing volumes of spare parts are air-freighted in.