Air Charter Service’s cargo department has been working tirelessly for the past week on solutions to overcome the problems caused by the volcanic ash cloud.
Justin Lancaster, Cargo Sales Director, explains: “Initially people thought that the closure of the airspace would last a day or two, but over the first weekend the realisation that this was much more serious sunk in, and forwarders began to panic. The phones went really mad with people looking for the earliest availabilities and other alternatives, and we had a number of staff in the office over the weekend, including a few people who even slept here!”
ACS used Spain as a hub to bring goods into Europe and to fly them out, as people were a lot more willing to truck goods further than normal just to get their freight on their way.
“We were getting a lot of requests for all sorts of shipments on routes where you wouldn't normally need a charter – for example from the US to Europe, where there's always good capacity. These aren't usual charter routes.”
With flights only just resuming part way through last week, companies have been desperate for any type of capacity on almost any route into or out of Europe.
Lancaster added: “Before the volcano erupted some carriers were already asking for two to three weeks' notice for bookings, and the availability of wide-bodied aircraft from the Far East was already bad - this situation has made it a lot worse.”
Air Charter Service expects the back log to last for a while yet, and will continue to help its customers moving their cargo around the world.
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