ACS sees $25m charter boom due to US west coast strike

Air Charter Service (ACS) reports that its North American and Asian offices booked over $25m of charter flights during the US west coast container ports strike.
Some 29 US seaports – handling 70 per cent of US trade with Asia – were hit by the industrial action, requiring a freighter airlift to keep production lines rolling.
So far, the UK-based broker has arranged more than 40 large charter flights, mainly B747 freighters, carrying almost 5,000 tons of automotive parts, perishables and other urgent cargo.
President of ACS’ US operation, Richard Thompson, said: “Since the first week of February we have been busy booking aircraft charters for our clients from Japan and China to the US and Canada.
“We have flown into California as well as further east to the Midwest in the States and Toronto as well. A lot of charters have also been going the other way, to Japan from the Midwest and a few to Australia too from Los Angeles.”
Managing director of ACS’ Asian offices, Stephen Fernandez, added: “The main obstacle that we’ve had to overcome is the aircraft availability, which changes from minute to minute.
“An aircraft that was available five minutes ago is suddenly not available for the next week. Not only that, but the prices that airlines are quoting have tripled due to the demand.”
Fernandez continued: “Tight schedules often mean that aircraft cannot wait for cargo for the return trip. There just haven’t been enough aircraft to cope.”
He said that ACS had to fly in charter experts from its European offices to help out the Hong Kong team.
Agreement has been reached in the long-running dispute but air charters are expected to continue until the backlog of cargo, on both sides of the Pacific, has been cleared.
US freight forwarder Delmar International said that while some shipping services have now resumed, vessels in west coast are facing 10-14 day delays and an additional seven to ten days before containers are available for pick-up.
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