As the air freight peak gets underway, Dachser has announced it will be organising charter flights for the Frankfurt-Shanghai route, offering customers in central Europe and China weekly round-trips.

“We are expecting this year’s peak season to be another strong one for air freight. Having our own charter means we can create premium capacity for our customers with fixed process and transit times,” said Timo Stroh, head of global air freight.

“We enable them to have extra freight volume even when capacity in the air freight market is tight.”

So far, carriers and forwarders are reporting tight capacity on the transpacific, while Europe, although catching up, remains a little weaker.

“Overall, the market is is good by historical standards – but not as good as it was last year,” said Robert van de Weg, vice president sales and marketing for Volga-Dnepr Group.

“The Asian market is currently very strong, mainly to the US, and that has an effect because European carriers are taking cargo to the US – so it affects everything. It is the peak for China to the US, but it’s compounded by tariffs. There is a build up.

“Everywhere was full on every route last year. Europe to China has been significantly less strong this year. But then there is the trade war. And ever-growing volumes of e-commerce are starting to kick in.”

Panalpina said on Friday it was starting to see heavy e-commerce volumes, and anticipated more following the big e-commerce sales events: Singles Day (yesterday), Black Friday (November 23) and Black Monday (November 26). In just two years, Panalpina has gone from no e-commerce shipments to some 20,000 tons.

Yesterday’s Singles Day saw Alibaba ring up $30.8bn in sales, based on gross merchandise value, a 27% year-on-year rise.

The e-commerce surge is expected to see the peak continue late in the year.

“It’s busy right up to Christmas, and we already have requests for between Christmas and New Year,” said Mr van de Weg.

“That’s when pilots need time off to see their families, but there are already some charter bookings in the system. It looks like Chinese New Year will be the first break.”

He added that e-commerce was multi-directional.

“You can see what is e-commerce because of the density, and you can identify specific shippers and forwarders. It’s booked as normal freight, it’s just more voluminous.

“It’s big in intra-Asia, China to Europe, South-east Asia to Europe, US to Europe, US to Russia – people are starting to buy everywhere. Inditex does a lot for example, from Spain to everywhere. There is a lot going in other directions.”

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