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The conflict in Israel is expected to spark changes in the airfreight market – the breadth of which will likely depend on how wide the conflict spreads.

Charter brokers have already reported a series of requests, which are becoming increasingly harder to fulfil, as scheduled airlines suspend services to Tel Aviv. BA has said it will cancel services for three weeks, while Turkish also confirmed it was not operating to Israel.

“We received requests on Saturday morning for a 747F from New York to Ben Gurion Airport (TLV), as well as a 737F from Frankfurt International to TLV and a 777F from Singapore Changi to TLV,” revealed Neil Dursley, chief commercial officer of Chapman Freeborn.

“Over the weekend, we worked closely with our US cargo colleagues on the incoming opportunities.”

However, he added: “As you might imagine, very few operators are willing to fly into TLV now and many scheduled passenger flights have been cancelled.”

He noted that DHL and FedEx were still operating, but UPS had also now stopped operations into Tel Aviv.

Reto Hunziker, president – Europe for Chapman Freeborn, added: “There is still some freighter lift, but it all depends on future demand.”

Air Charter Service said it too was fielding charter requests to Israel.

“We’ve definitely seen an increase in enquiries, but mostly tentative humanitarian requests as aid agencies prepare in the hope of an aid corridor opening up,” said Dan Morgan-Evans, global director cargo.

“It is highly likely there will be high war-risk insurance for any flights into Tel Aviv, if they were to be approved. In previous conflicts, customers have tended to use Jordon for aid delivery.”

Two airports in Jordan are about 110 km from Tel Aviv. Mr Hunziker explained: “There are lower-risk airports in neighbouring countries. The challenge also is that a potential alternate airport needs to have the infrastructure and equipment to handle a freighter.”

Aside from the humanitarian relief which will be required, Israel also has other airfreight needs: in 2021, it reported 716m tonne-km, according to the World Bank.

One forwarder noted that the airfreight market tended to be impacted by disruption of any sort.

“This is horrific – and it will impact airfreight. It’s not just carriers suspending flights. A nasty war in the Middle East always creates demand for air freight. If it escalates, then it could be a dynamic not seen for a few decades.”

The concern is the conflict could spread, with worries for Lebanon in particular. But there is also a fear that if Iran is drawn into the conflict, there will be an impact on fuel prices. The price of oil jumped immediately after the news of the Hamas attack, but fell again shortly after.

Tom Kloza, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, told NBC: “If the theatre of war is expanded to Iran, that changes the calculus.”

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