SOUTH AFRICA – Airfreight volumes through Dube TradePort’s Cargo Terminal have experienced a substantial surge in the last six months.

According to Ricardo Isaac, Senior Manager of Cargo Development and Operations at Dube Cargo Terminal, this upswing is attributed to the cascading effects of congestion and sluggish throughput capacity at major seaports in South Africa, causing a ripple effect across the supply chain.

Durban’s air cargo operations, facilitated by the Dube Cargo Terminal at King Shaka International Airport, have shown a consistent upward trajectory in the financial years 2022/2023 and 2023/2024.

However, the demand for airfreight witnessed a notable spike in the past four months leading into 2024. Cargo throughput soared by an impressive 57% quarter-on-quarter from September to December 2023, driven by persistent challenges in seaports that continued to divert significant demand towards airfreight in January 2024.

Ricardo Isaac emphasized the breadth of this surge, stating, “This significant increase in airfreight has been observed across various industries, from perishables to automotive, the latter traditionally being reliant on ocean freight.”

“This emphasizes the need of these industries to ensure uninterrupted production and timely delivery to export markets.”

Isaac highlighted the specific impact on fruit exports, revealing that volumes to the Middle East and European markets doubled from September to December 2023 compared to the same period the previous year.

In the automotive sector, November saw volumes approximately 30% higher than the normal flow through the airfreight cargo terminal.

“The trend indicates that for time-sensitive commodities and in cases where production stoppage risks are heightened, having an efficient air option has become an invaluable part of the supply chain,” Isaac remarked.

Maersk expands Airfreight reach with digital platform

In a parallel development, Maersk has fortified its presence in the airfreight sector with the launch of its digital platform, Maersk Air Cargo (MAC).

This platform, which originated as a hub service from Billund Airport in Denmark in April 2022, now enables the easy booking of MAC airfreight solutions for 70,000 airports across over 90 countries.

The digital platform boasts instant pricing combined with value-added services, offering shippers and agents a seamless way to find affordable airfreight options.

Darryl Judd, Head of Air Freight for MAC in India, the Middle East, and Africa, explained the significance of this development in today’s global supply chain landscape.

“In today’s age, where volatility and uncertainty have become perpetual potential threats to the global supply chains, our customers are looking for agility and resilience that allows them to make quick decisions around the movement of their cargo across borders,” said Judd.

“Our digital air freight solution allows them to make such bookings seamlessly.”

The platform’s transparency empowers customers with instant prices, aiding in making well-informed decisions in the ever-evolving manufacturing landscape characterized by diversified global value chains.

Maersk’s foray into digital airfreight solutions aims to address the growing need for flexibility and efficiency in the face of evolving challenges in the supply chain.

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