Date: 21.02.2024

Bangkok and Dubai air cargo handling delays

The ramping up of air cargo demand in Asia has led to ground handlers in Bangkok and Dubai announcing temporary embargoes on imports, with delays still being experienced. 

The unprecedented volumes of air cargo are largely due to modal shifts from sea to air and sea/air because of the Red Sea crisis and a higher than expected export surge ahead of Chinese New Year.

The surge in inbound Dubai cargo flows, that peaked last week, has resulted in a backlog of cargo for processing at the ground handlers, who suspended processing of imports of general cargo.

The big passenger airlines were particularly impacted by the embargo, including Qatar Airways who operate about 10 Dubai flights a day. 

Qatar also issued advisory notices of the temporary embargo at BKK, scheduled to last until the beginning of this week.

Etihad Cargo maintain that its Abu Dhabi hub has been unaffected, but they do have high volumes of inbound trucking into Dubai which has been impacted by the disruption.

No embargo has yet been issued by Etihad Cargo, as they are buffering and clearing cargo in Abu Dhabi for subsequent dispatch to Dubai.

It is clear that the traditional sea-air hubs, including Colombo and Singapore as well as Dubai have experienced massive congestion, and even in Bangkok and Doha, a similar situation is evident.

Colombo volumes are high with sea to air movements, but extra volumes are clearing through charter freighters and there is no serious congestion at the moment.

However, short-term rates have increased by almost a third and while we do not expect them to remain that elevated for long, they may stay strong as importers in Europe and the US use time-critical solutions to avoid empty shelves and stock-outs.

Bangkok ground handlers confirmed the surge in demand had created a backlog in their facilities and have waived storage charges during the embargo, saying they cannot charge storage if they are causing the storage issue. 

Incoming shipments were not being sorted a week ago as there was no storage space in the warehouse, with more cargo expected in the coming days.  

The temporary embargoes only apply to imported general cargo and not perishables, pharmaceuticals, dangerous goods or other types of specialised freight. 

For urgent, valuable and special shipments we have a range of air freight and sea/air solutions, with extremely competitive rate and service combinations, to meet every deadline and budget.

EMAIL Elliot Carlile, Operations Director, for insights, prices and advice.