US agriculture exporters hit by coronavirus related air cargo shortage

By Damian Brett

US agriculture exporters are being affected by a lack of airfreight capacity due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The US Department of Agriculture said that the industry is suffering from systematic delays to shipping and air cargo as airlines cut capacity and shipping line services are disrupted by quarantine measures in certain countries.

Volumes to Taiwan are coming under particular pressure despite not having announced any new quarantine restrictions on shipping vessels, air cargo, or incoming agricultural products.

In a report, the department said: “British Airways and IAG Cargo have cancelled all services to and from China for the remainder of the month. DHL has been quoted as reporting that there are, ‘severe disruptions to inbound and outbound air cargo shipments, trucking and rail cargo services’.

“Moreover, UPS announced an agreement with its pilot union that flying to China will be voluntary amid the continued outbreak. FedEx has announced that international flights have not been affected, but local logistics within China has.

“Many highly perishable agricultural products often move via air cargo, further increasing the strain on export shippers looking for alternatives given container delays. Again, logistical issues affecting China are expected to ripple outward to Taiwan and neighboring economies.

“In summary, US agricultural exports to Taiwan and other destinations in Asia face many logistical and transportation challenges coming out of the Lunar New Year holiday due to the novel coronavirus and these are not expected to ease soon.”

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