Australian supply chains are still suffering widespread disruption from Covid-related staff shortages.
According to the Freight & Trade Alliance (F&TA), freight forwarders have reported surging airfreight volumes into Sydney and Melbourne, which, combined with high numbers of staff isolating, has resulted in congestion at both airports.
F&TA noted: “We understand the sudden influx of cargo flights with rapid antigen test kits and other medical equipment is proving to be problematic, particularly in Melbourne and Sydney. Numerous chartered cargo flights are arriving with little to no notification.”
For example, it said, cargo handler Menzies was facing collection issues in Sydney, “inhibiting the processing of new inbound cargo flights.”
The government estimated Australian absenteeism has risen as high as 10% at any one time, due to Covid cases or close contacts that require seven days’ isolation. Transport stakeholders have estimated this to be much higher, however.
Greg Mckillop, owner of Southern Cross Cargo, said the air cargo market had been a “bit slower than usual”, due to the congestion and priority given for imports of rapid test kits.
“Any business that cannot have staff work remotely has been suffering delays,” he told The Loadstar. “But Covid numbers seem to be decreasing, so hopefully the workforce will be more solid soon.
“We definitely need more airfreight capacity on the east coast, however, and the good news is Australia’s borders are opening more to overseas travellers, so we should start to see some increased capacity over the next few months.
“In the meantime, we are about to fly a 35-ton shipment from Chile to Brisbane. It’s been very challenging to secure a booking, but it is moving.”
Meanwhile, container supply chains have encountered their fair share of worker shortages, too, with some logistics firms introducing a Covid-surcharge to recoup their increased costs, which include paying workers overtime.
For example, transport operators in Victoria have introduced a surcharge of A$30 (US$21.10) per container, while Melbourne container terminal operator VICT is set to introduce a Covid levy tomorrow.
Updating customers on the container logistics situation in Australia, CH Robinson said: “Same-day urgent deliveries are nearly impossible to meet. Full container load carriers are booking out two-three days in advance, and booking further in advance isn’t an option due to the continuing changing landscape and unpredictability of illness and isolation requirements.
“Less-than-containerload carriers are booked out three to four days in advance and LCL depots are still trying to catch up on the unpacking of shipments that arrived pre-holiday season.”
Credit The Loadstar by By Sam Whelan