IBERIA\\\ >> 14

so access for forwarders’ staff to

warehouses had to be arranged to shiſt

incoming product promptly. Fitzgerald estimates that while total freight was down 60%, handling staff numbers were down 90%. The situation now, in mid-

September, is still far from normal, but demand and supply are better balanced. Airlines have restored some schedules and do have capacity available, while the initial surge in PPE shipments has abated somewhat. However, charters are still in heavy demand, not necessarily for Covid-related traffi c, but for other cargo that still cannot fi nd space on scheduled fl ights - particularly e-commerce which “went crazy”

during the lockdown. What will happen next is

uncertain, says Fitzgerald. Demand for freight capacity is brisk at the moment, but there are worries over the long-term health of the economy in Spain, Portugal and elsewhere. “What the airfreight market needs is good consumption,” Fitzgerald explains, and even if there is

some measure of economic

recovery, confi dence has taken a knock during the crisis. While ACS’s tonnages are up, the reduction in the number of fl ights has to be a concern, he says. Fitzgerald also pays tribute to the wider airfreight

Issue 7 2020 - Freight Business Journal

carrier Iberia certainly got good use out of its older A340-600s. But ironically, cash-strapped

carriers have now retired a lot of older aircraſt to save costs, so the industry’s ability to cope with future surges may be constrained. There are also serious question marks over the future viability of many airlines, although government support so far has ensured that no major fl ag carriers have yet gone out of business. Now, the industry needs to


ability to respond to the crisis, with older aircraſt being pressed into service. Spanish national

brace itself for a new rush to ship the Covid vaccine which, Fitzgerald suggests, could be even more frantic than for PPE. The freighting task promises to be even greater and, moreover, the much more exacting temperature requirements

Ital Logistics maintains vital links

The Iberian market, like all markets, has been aff ected this year by the Covid-19 pandemic, says James Mears, Iberian manager at Lancashire-based Ital Logistics. “But we didn’t stop, like some of our competitors”, he points out. “Our main focus in April was to

ensure the continuity of services, not just for Iberia, but all our routes. Our daily service was reduced to a guaranteed twice-weekly, each Tuesday and Friday. So while volumes were down, our clients could still rely on good service levels. “We also found that because

some of our competitors suspended their services, some clients which we had lost in recent times reverted back to using us as their current incumbents were either providing a dissatisfactory service or, as mentioned, suspended temporarily. So it wasn’t all bad.” Unfortunately, though

not unexpectedly, holiday destinations were aff ected: Tenerife, the Balearics, and other popular destinations such as Malaga and Alicante have seen

signifi cant decreases. These areas have large swings depending on seasonality, and whilst there have been signifi cant declines, says Mears, “we have still been able to maintain a reasonable level of service assisting our customers’ supply chains.” However, we are now back to daily services – almost - with volumes close on pre- Covid-19 levels,” he says. Ital Logistics managing director,

Phil Denton continues: “The chemical industry has remained buoyant, and our decision 20 years ago to make the carriage of dangerous goods one of our niche specialities has proved a welcome support during this period. “The year started incredibly – in

January we recorded our best ever Iberian performance, and with projections from previous years we were expecting a bumper year. Without the disruption of Covid-19, we were anticipating overall turnover to increase by some 9-12% which would have seen us break the £17 million mark. But it was not to be, although we should still return a similar fi gure to 2019, perhaps a 3-5% retraction.”


means that strapping shipments to passenger seats will probably not be an option. Dry ice and temperature controlled containers could be needed in unprecedented quantities. And while the industry may get

rather more notice of the vaccine airliſt than it did for PPE, it will be much more of a global eff ort

He concludes: “Covid-19 isn’t

over yet, and won’t be for some time. As if that isn’t hard enough, Brexit is just around the corner. With HMRC still to fi nish off soſt ware, this is now our next step. Our Iberian partners, in fact all our partners, still do not have defi nitive details from their politicians on how to perform the customs processes. “Nevertheless, we are

continuing to invest in technology to interface our soſt ware via API to customs systems so that we can provide services as customs intermediaries for our clients and

than the predominantly east to west PPE fl ow. Temperature- controlled vaccines will also be much more time-sensitive than inert PPE. But, says Fitzgerald: “We will

respond to the needs of our customers. We will be ready in terms of making plans - when we know what those plans will be.”

seek to ease their burden as best we can. We have just provided a section on our website (https://ital- which is proving of some assistance to our clients. “I am very proud of our

employees. How they have responded through this year, with a reduced team, some working remotely, and pulling together as though nothing has happened, is testament indeed. If success can be measured by the dedication and comradeship or our people, then we have been truly successful.”



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