Broker predicts rise in UK air cargo demand as Covid isolation cases surge

By Damian Brett

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Charter broker Air Partner is expecting an increase in UK air cargo flights as supply chains come under pressure from a rising number of people in Covid isolation.

The expected increase comes as the country faces what is being dubbed a ‘ping-demic’ — a reference to receiving a ‘ping’ from the health service’s Covid app notifying people they should isolate — after most lockdown restrictions were lifted on July 19.

The lifting of restrictions came just as Covid case numbers were beginning to increase, causing the number of people needing to isolate to rise.

This has had an impact on many sectors, forcing some businesses to temporarily close and supermarkets noting limitations on some products.

Robert Jubb, UK head of freight, Air Partner said: “As a result of the recent surge in the rate of self-isolation cases, in particular the staff shortage of lorry drivers, we are expecting to see an increase in demand for dedicated cargo flights from major retailers seeking to minimise disruption to the UK’s supply chain.

“Previous complications to goods logistics due to both Covid and Brexit has seen our enquiries for airfreight increase by 60% to meet demand for orders typically fulfilled via sea and road transportation.

“We expect this trend to continue in the short-term as frontline workers continue to be affected by the ‘ping-demic’ before rules change around self-isolation from August 16 onwards, to alleviate increasing pressure on UK businesses.”

The latest figures show that almost 620,000 people had been asked to isolate in the last week alone.

However, the government has today announced that employers providing critical services can request exemption for some employees that are double vaccinated and that carry out daily tests.

The government said that this is “not a blanket exemption for all workers in a sector”.

Food production and supply and essential transport are included in the list of critical sectors.

“In the small number of situations where the self-isolation of close contacts would result in serious disruption to critical services, a limited number of named workers may be able to leave self-isolation under specific controls for the purpose of undertaking critical work only,” the government said.

“This process is only intended to run until 16 August 2021, when fully vaccinated close contacts will be exempt from self-isolation.”

 

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