DB Schenker adds charter flights while high-tech firms turn to airfreight

By Damian Brett

DB Schenker has expanded its air charter operation as it responds to a tightening of capacity.

The German freight forwarder said that its new “global flight operations programme” will connect Beijing, Shanghai, Zhengzhou and Hong Kong to Chicago and Frankfurt ten times a week with exclusive full charter flights.

“While scheduled air freight capacity remains highly impacted due to international passenger flight cancellations, this new offering creates reliable cargo options for DB Schenker’s customers exporting from China,” the company said.

Martin Habisreitinger, vice president airfreight, DB Schenker Greater China, added: “In China, the majority of the manufacturers have recovered to normal. With the Covid-19-pandemic still not under control worldwide, we do not expect passenger flights and belly capacity to return to the market within the next 12 months. The instability and insufficient supply within the capacity market have become a bottleneck for our customers.”

The new operation connects Shanghai and Frankfurt three times a week, Beijing and Frankfurt once per week, Zhengzhou and Frankfurt once per week, Hong Kong to Frankfurt twice per week and Shanghai to Chicago three times per week.

In addition to these regular exclusive full charter flights, DB Schenker also provides partial charter flights, connecting Hong Kong to Frankfurt twice a week, Hong Kong to Los Angeles three times per week and Hong Kong to Chicago once per week.

DB Schenker commenced frequent full charter flights earlier this year to overcome capacity shortages and peak demand during the Corona pandemic.

Meanwhile, reports continue to roll in suggesting that high-tech firms are increasingly utilising airfreight on the transpacific trade lane as they try to meet demand.

In August news service Axios reported that there had been a surge in laptop demand – up 20%-40% each week – in the US since the start of the outbreak as more people were working from home and students switched to home learning.

Gregg Prendergast, Acer America president, told the website that it was increasingly using airfreight (even for its older models) to try and meet the demand and mitigate delays. He said using air cargo could save up to three weeks compared with ocean transport.

More recently, Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad – quoting an interview with Delta Cargo China manager Jerry Tai on Chinese news service Caixin – has said that Sony booked 60 flights to transport the Playstation 5 to the US.


Other freight forwarders have also been looking to secure capacity over recent weeks. Earlier this week, DHL Global Forwarding (GF) announced the launch of a new airfreight charter service, which connects Asia Pacific to Europe and the US.

Managed by StarBroker, DHL GF’s in-house charter team, the twice-weekly charter originates from Chongqing and flies to Amsterdam, Chicago and Incheon before returning to China.

Meanwhile, Dachser has announced a new charter service from Hong Kong to Frankfurt.

“We’re seeing the Asian market pick up pace again and the rate level is rising, so there is less capacity available on the market,” said Timo Stroh, head of global airfreight at Dachser. “With this service, we’re responding to these conditions and offering our customers a robust and reliable premium air service between Hong Kong and Europe.”

This follows hot on the heels of Dachser’s new weekly charter service between Frankfurt and Chicago, in response to growing demand.

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