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The “total chaos” at Menzies Heathrow has abated, following swift action by the handler.

Caught in a perfect storm of surging volumes while taking over the Qatar Airways contract, Menzies – along with importers, forwarders and hauliers – has had a tough week, with cargo delays of up to six days.

One forwarder noted: “I haven’t seen anything like this over the last 15 years of dealing with handlers.”

However, the congestion is nearly clear, after Menzies added resources and switched some airline handling to alternative locations.

“Backlogs are almost clear,” said Robert Fordree, executive vice president cargo, who spent last week at Heathrow to help resolve the issues. “We’re now focused on quickly improving shipment discrepancies.

“Door queues for both imports and exports have improved considerably, and we’re working to get them completely back to normal.

“We’re adding resource to our customer service team and will be installing a new telephone system to improve our response.  We have identified an intermittent fault with our existing telephone system that we are fixing and we will update customers as soon as we can.”

Mr Fordree said the volumes coming in now matched handling capacity, “so we’re confident we will be returning to a more normal service performance this week”.

He added: “We are grateful for the feedback we’ve received during this challenging period and we’re sorry for the impact it’s had. I’d like to thank customers for their patience and understanding, and our cargo teams who’ve done everything we’ve asked, and more, to put this right.”

Menzies was not the only handler facing difficulties. One forwarder told The Loadstar: “Most of Heathrow is seeing delays – it’s all a bit overwhelmed with a lot of air freight coming through. It took us 48 hours to get some freight out of WFS last week.

And he added: “Amsterdam, especially Dnata, is also shot – trucking transfers are taking upwards of three to seven days.”

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