Charter brokers prepare for Brexit freighter demand

By Damian Brett

Charter brokers are preparing for urgent demand when the UK’s 12 month European Union exit transition period comes to an end in January.

Both Chapman Freeborn and Air Charter Service (ACS) are expecting snarl ups at UK and European ferry ports at the start of the year as border processes are changed.

Chapman Freeborn group charter director Pierre van der Stichele said that it has secured two aircraft on standby basis for two different customers to operate nightly flights Europe mainland to the UK and back. 

“We are ready and presently are able to offer the capacity to customers from B737 Freighters to the Dornier 228 or the Saab 340 offering different payload,” he added.

Van der Stichele said that companies appear to be less prepared for issues at the border than at previous milestones in the exit process.

“Forwarders were well prepared in the first and second wave of Brexit-deadlines and we had forward booking of aircraft, which were booked on dedicated basis for specific clients, to either transport Pharma or automotive goods.

“What we find somewhat strange is that the forwarder community seem to be immune after Brexit one and two and are not as actively concerned about Brexit anymore. We may find ourselves in the run up to the New year with last minute contingency aircraft requirements.”

ACS group cargo director Dan Morgan-Evans also felt that companies were not as prepared as they were previously.

This time round he thinks companies are waiting to see what happens.

“I can’t see it being a case of a smooth border crossing with no queues at Calais,” he said. “I would imagine that there will be quite a bit of activity intra-Europe. It will be the equivalent of port strike or a Calais strike that will go on for a little bit.”

He said that during previous Dover-Calais border issues ACS has carried out multiple charter flights, even at one stage organising for a B777F to fly from Brussels to Stansted in the UK.

Meanwhile, the logistics industry got a worrying glimpse into what could happen on January 1 earlier this week when French customs ran a trial of new border procedures and software.

The nine-hour trial resulted in a five-mile queue of trucks waiting to cross the channel on the M20 motorway in Kent.

The border procedures involved checks on passports, proof of means, journey details and length of stay, which take around 70 seconds per driver, the Guardian reported.

Other checks on food, drink and agricultural products could also be in place come the end of the transition.

The UK and European Union are in the process of negotiating a trade deal that could ease some of the congestion concerns.

However, extra paper work and checks are likely, although these will be able to be completed before or after the crossing.

Earlier in the year, UK hauliers were warned to expect delays of up to two days and queues of up to 7,000 trucks in Kent as the UK exits the EU.

In a letter, the UK government said that under its reasonable worst case scenario for the first couple of months of the year, two-day delays could be expected if hauliers do not prepare for post-Brexit border operations on cross channel services.

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