Gustavo Mundel of PML looks at how Brexit and the pandemic are impacting the sector

The airfreight sector has shown significant growth in recent years with global airfreight volumes reaching 61.3m tonnes in 2019 (source: Statista 2020). 

Two dominant factors can be identified which have led to the clear increased demand for air transportation services capable of transferring commercial goods. The meteoric rise of e-commerce and the ability to purchase products from all over the world simply by the click of a button has stimulated a dramatic interest in delivery services that can provide a means of speedy fulfilment, to match consumer expectations.

In addition to this, while airline fuel prices reached an all-time high in 2012 which attributed to slow growth in air freight volumes, the notable fall in the cost of airline fuel in 2016 resulted in clear evidence of a growth in airfreight volume.

Benefits of airfreight

For a company involved in the transportation of temperature-sensitive, perishable goods, the advantages of moving consignments via airfreight lanes are clear. Firstly, the sheer speed of transit – air travel is by far the fastest mode of transport and hence, for products which have a finite shelf-life, the opportunity to maximise the length of time during which the goods can remain on sale in store, is critical. The difference between moving goods by air or sea can represent an extended shelf-life of up to 48 hours.

In addition, flights to destinations all over the world (under normal conditions), are frequent, providing a much wider window of opportunity to book in the expeditious transfer of cargo.

Finally, given the much-debated impact of Brexit, air travel provides the ability to transcend border delays and while the pandemic obviously has had a major impact on passenger numbers, airports largely have been able to remain operational and have been able to continue providing a much-needed service to maintain the supply of essential goods – including PPE – around the world.

Competitive charters

Within the specific chartered air freight sector competition is fierce. There are a number of carriers now offering their services directly rather than via a charter broker and in some ways, these airlines are starting to operate as logistics providers in their own right.

From merely selling space on the aircraft, they are increasingly offering a complete one-stop shop to secure business and ensure flights are filled to maximum capacity.

Although passenger traffic has been seriously compromised by the global outbreak of coronavirus, many of the airlines have been quick to seize the opportunity to retrofit aircraft to enable them to operate as cargo carriers providing the ability to continue flying at improved capacity.

Trends for 2021

But what does the future hold for chartered airfreight services? There is no sign of any slow-down in the world of e-commerce, in fact quite the opposite. With so many consumers forced to adapt their shopping habits in response to the restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19, it is likely that the changes that have been made will be long lasting.

While the world remains optimistic that the traditional retailers will be able to resume normal trading, the fact is that consumers will have become accustomed to revising their approach to purchasing and will be loathed to turn their back on the speedy digital shopping experience.

In response to this, more and more aircraft are being reconfigured to carry cargo, rather than passengers and there has been a spike in the number of aircraft retrofit businesses able to undertake these specialist works.

Since the production of the Boeing 747 has stopped in favour of the more fuel efficient, newer 777, so interest in the procurement of 777s to lease or buy has increased and while some of these may already be converted for cargo, we are likely to see more of these passenger aircraft configured to accommodate the exclusive handling of cargo. 

The world of e-commerce traditionally focuses on a high proportion of goods being transported out of China into major European hubs. As a result, there is likely to be a predicted growth in the number of chartered airfreight services transferring consignments out of these hubs and delivering them to local European markets. This means that once again, the pressure for space will be intensified on these flights.

Given the world’s growing mandate to address the need to slow down climate change, it is also likely that the future will bring new breakthroughs in fuel efficient engines which represent an improved carbon emissions proposition. 

For companies who trade on their ‘green’ credentials, this will enable them to potentially reconsider the use of chartered aircraft, which will in turn create further demand for space.

Impact of Brexit

Brexit has effectively provided a massive boost to the chartered airfreight industry. Companies which specialise in perishable goods cannot risk being caught up in cross-border delays, delays which can have a devastating impact on time-sensitive produce.  UK supermarkets and independents demand quality fresh produce, with a good shelf-life.

Goods that have been kept in transit when they should have been on the shelves will have a reduced shelf-life triggering substantial losses to the producer. 

For PML, the speed of transit associated with chartered aircraft services, supported by the company’s ability to handle product with an unbroken cold chain thanks to its unique relationship with Heathrow’s only dedicated chilled airside facility, has dictated an even stronger interest in chartered air freight in the wake of Brexit. Such is the demand that PML, has seized the initiative to charter its own aircraft to ensure the seamless and timely transfer of fresh produce.

Coronavirus crisis

The impact of the global pandemic continues to be felt in all sectors of industry and the chartered airfreight sector is certainly not exempt. As countries begin to prepare for massive vaccination programmes the priority for many airlines is to capitalise on the opportunity to carry the vaccines and as a result the race for space on chartered flights continues to heat up.

Competition for space in turn brings with it spiralling prices. Now the charters are becoming even more expensive due to the potential to charge a premium price for the transportation of PPE and vaccines.

Looking ahead

As the biggest independent perishable goods importer, PML continues to work hard to stay ahead of the curve. In addition to chartering its own twice-weekly flight from Nairobi to Heathrow, the company is watching the market to identify new opportunities to increase the number of flight rotations operated by PML and its partner network.

Having an in-house air charter service division, headed up by someone who has acted on both sides of the fence, working for an airline as well as an independent charter broker means that the company is well placed to access the very best air trade lanes. But as anyone in the logistics business will testify, these will be challenging times for the industry.

Source: Fruitnet.com

PML flying high with new airfreight charter service

PML flying high with new airfreight charter service

Twice-weekly service will fly from Nairobi to London carrying essential perishable cargos

We’re thrilled to announce the news that we are now chartering our own airfreight flights. The investment comes as we seek to expand the commercial offering of PML as a leading global perishable cargo specialist. Our new airfreight flights will compliment our pivotal role in maintaining the supply of fresh produce during the pandemic, post Brexit and in support of new UK trade deals.

We’re working in partnership with Kenya Airways and have chartered a Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft that will fly from Nairobi to Heathrow twice a week, carrying essential perishable goods on behalf of PML’s clients looking to export out of Kenya. 

The two weekly flights began on 18 November and will be able to carry 36 tonnes of cargo per flight. From January, post planned modifications to the aircraft, the capacity will increase to 42 tonnes.

With the flights departing at 04.00 GMT on Wednesdays and Sundays, PML are now able to successfully deliver fresh produce into the UK on the same day as it left Nairobi, representing the speedy transfer that is key to maintaining the quality and shelf life of any fresh produce consignment. 

The move to charter a bespoke PML air freight flight comes hot on the heels of the company setting up a dedicated in-house charter air freight service to cater for the increasing demand for the transfer of perishable goods by air. 

“We remain committed to providing a seamless service to our clients. With competition to secure availability on chartered air freight services becoming increasingly intense, we were keen to identify a solution that would ensure our ability to guarantee the fastest transfer of perishable goods. The response to this service has been very positive. We anticipate that flights will be operating at full capacity, both up to Christmas and beyond. We are driving forward towards Brexit and are well prepared to navigate restrictions that are likely to severely impact on the supply chain business.”

PML sales director Nick Finbow.

Take a look at the press coverage so far:

PML flying high with new airfreight charter service

http://www.fruitnet.com/eurofruit/article/183571/pml-flying-high-with-new-airfreight-charter-service

https://www.freshplaza.com/article/9269936/pml-to-start-new-air-freight-charter-service-from-kenya/

https://centreforaviation.com/news/kenya-airways-and-pml-launch-nairobi-london-cargo-service-for-produce-1038718

https://www.fpcfreshtalkdaily.co.uk/

https://www.logupdateafrica.com/uk-kenya-ink-deal-for-tarifffree-fresh-produce-trade-trade-e-commerce

Press – Fresh Produce Journal reports on PML appointing their youngest ever Board Director

press pml

At 25 years old Ryan Parr is the youngest Director in PML’s 17 year history, having joined the business at 18 Parr has worked across many areas of the company. PML’s Sales Director Nick Finbow said:  “PML is focused on maintaining a board of directors who have the ability to continue to drive the business forward, embracing emerging technologies and the latest innovations to uphold the company’s leading position in the global logistics sector.”

To read the full article from Fresh Produce Journal follow this link

UK Haulier on PML’s strengths

UK Haulier title has picked up the story that PML reports business in good health, despite pandemic.

Commenting on the situation, Sales Director Nick Finbow said, “We are fortunate to have a well-established business which means that over the years we have built up a network of contacts which have proved invaluable when faced with identifying new channels and transport solutions to overcome cancelled or rescheduled routes. Looking ahead, our recently launched in-house charter air freight service will play a key role in helping us ride out not only the coronavirus storm but also the anticipated disruptions and new restrictions associated with Brexit.”

Follow this link to see the full article.