volcanic ash© Satori13 _30710703
© Satori13

Asia-US capacity is currently tight following the cancellation of a number of flights due to volcanic ash in the air.

Space to Europe has also slimmed down after bad weather in Shanghai and Hong Kong impacted flights.

A series of volcanic eruptions on Alaska’s Bogoslof Island triggered an ash cloud which caused several airlines to adjust their transpacific operations, creating ”very tight” space, according to one forwarder.

“Airlines have had to decease capacity since last week,” said one.  “There has been a big challenge for airlines from Asia to the US.”

One forwarder reported that China Cargo Airlines was forced to adjust its operations, among others.

Others were unaffected. Mark Sutch, general manager cargo for Cathay Pacific said: “We were lucky with timing, and got away with no re-routes or cancellations.”

Forwarders have also told The Loadstar that poor weather in China had affected EU flights.

“Airlines are increasing rates to the EU, and bad weather meant about 20 flights in and out of Hong Kong have been cancelled. So space to the EU is really affected,” said one.

He added that Cargolux out of Zhengzhou was seeing some congestion, and that space for larger shipments across many airlines is booked until Friday at the earliest.

The news came as Drewry reported its latest east-west air freight price index, which saw rates drop 3.1% in May, owing to lower rates on Asia-North America – although they are up 5.3% year-on-year.  But with capacity tight, that tradelane is expected to see price hikes soon. Drewry said it expected air freight rates to rebound in June.

The Alaskan volcano is on part of the Aleutian island chain, under the flight path of many aircraft between Asia and North America. It erupted in May, and again yesterday, sending an ash and steam plume up to about 36,000ft, before moving eastwards. The volcano observatory said that the “volcano remains at a heightened state of unrest and in an unpredictable condition. Additional explosions producing high-altitude volcanic clouds could occur at any time.”

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