Hong Kong accuses carriers of profiteering

AIRLINES are charging exporters in Hong Kong premium rates to clear the backlog of airfreight resulting from the European volcanic ash delays.

According to the Hong Kong Shippers’ Council, prices to Europe have been lifted by over 200 per cent, from less than US$30 per kg to over $100.

Sunny Ho, council executive director, said that exporters had little choice but pay the hiked prices: “Exporters may have to pay compensation or charge less for their goods if they don’t have a clause in the contract to exclude their liability under such condition. But you can’t do it with perishable goods; it takes more than 20 days to send them by sea, compared to only one day by plane.”

It is estimated that 8,000 tonnes of airfreight were held up due to the week-long closure of Europe’s airports.

Carriers have defended their conduct as being simply a case of supply and demand on par with Christmas. With increased airfreight charges of more than double the usual rates for over twice as long as the disruption then it is very much like Christmas, for some.

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