Impact of COVID-19 on International Air Deliveries


Air freight

International air deliveries are being constrained as international airfreight capacity has been severely impacted by the wholesale grounding of many passenger airline fleets (IATA estimates that around 8,500 passenger aircraft have been grounded which is equivalent to 33% of the global passenger fleet). These flights have traditionally carried a huge proportion of air freight in their cargo bays. This lack of passenger flights has almost totally curtailed On-board courier capacity.

Global airfreight capacity is now largely dependent on international air cargo operators such as DHL, FedEx and UPS, and the cargo arms of airlines such as Emirates and Cathay Pacific. A further restriction is added by the insistence of many countries that aircrews are quarantined on arrival where they are planning a stopover in the country. Clearly, a 2-week quarantine on aircrew would quickly exhaust available aircrew.

To avoid this on long-haul flights, carriers are doubling-up crews so that the back-up crew can fly straight back on the return leg without any aircrew disembarking. However, this still reduces overall capacity as fewer aircrew are available.

While Absolutely are still currently managing to arrange international air deliveries to all destinations, in the cities hardest-hit by the virus we are experiencing delays of up to a few days on normal transit times. We are also aware that as of 2 April 2020 India has imposed a 21-day lockdown with deliveries virtually impossible to all areas.

Also, the international carriers have announced that they are applying what they are calling an ‘Emergency Situation Surcharge’ or ‘Temporary Surcharge’, according to DHL “to cover part of the operating cost increases and the necessary air network adjustments during the time of this emergency situation“. This varies depending on the route and destination so please contact us for the details.

 No Contact Delivery Procedure

In many locations, for international air deliveries, carriers are operating a ‘no-contact delivery‘ procedure for safety reasons. Delivery drivers will not ask you to sign the delivery Handheld Device. Instead, the driver will knock on the door/ring the doorbell, place the consignment on the doorstep, step back from the door by 2 meters and ask for you to confirm your name. The driver will then type your name into the Handheld Device to confirm delivery.  Also, in most instances, carriers are insisting that drivers wear protective gear and regularly disinfect the equipment they use when making deliveries.

With the wide displacement of people away from their normal workplaces and many offices and stores closing it is imperative that we can establish contact with the consignee to determine the current delivery location. For this reason, accurate and comprehensive local recipient contact details are mandatory for all bookings.

 Constantly Changing Situation – so call us to discuss

Agility Global Shipping Updates COVID-19The capacity of global air freight carriers is in a state of flux and impacted by a variety of factors, not least by the daily, evolving government regulation in every country. If you have a need to arrange international air deliveries in these difficult times we recommend that you call the Absolutely international team on +44 (0)20 7685 1400 to discuss your specific requirements to ensure you have the most up to date information.

However, you might find the Agility Global Shipping Updates: COVID-19 website a useful indicator of the relative difficulty of shipping to global destinations. The snapshot above shows the overall status as of 2 April 2020 but please refer to the live Agility site for the latest information.


 Looking for more information on our courier services?

International Courier Services

Sameday Services

Chilled Courier Services

Overnight/Next Day Courier Services

Share this