Elevated air cargo rates and capacity constraints to remain this year (and possibly 2022)

Ziegler speaks to our very own National Head of Air Products Heidi van Eck about air cargo capacity and rates.

Reasons for elevated air cargo rates and capacity problems

Due to Covid-19, the available air freight capacity is volatile. Many people may not be aware, but the majority of the world’s Air Cargo is carried in the belly of passenger aircraft.

The volatility in Airfreight capacity is caused by various factors including the impact of different countries adopting different lockdown measures to curb the spread of Covid19, which is further impacted by the inconsistent roll-out of vaccines in various countries, not least the slow roll out in Africa that has caused many countries to ban travellers from our continent and carriers limit or cancel services, again impacting capacity negatively.

The same outcome but for different reasons. Cargo capacity between Europe and North America is also restrained, but that is due to the successful implementation of vaccines which has caused a spike in air-travel and therefore passenger baggage. Passenger baggage gets priority over Cargo, so fewer flights, fewer wide-body aircraft, more passengers, and Cargo suffers. This is affecting our US Airfreight Consolidation and Time Critical services with a noticeable deterioration in Door-to-Door transit times. We continue to manage solutions.

I’d like to remind consumers that medical supplies (like vaccines and test kits) yield higher returns and are given priority space on an aircraft. With limited space, airlines can dictate freight rates. For further detail about Air Cargo rates, click on the link below


Has Covid-19 affected air freight in any other way?

Air Cargo is experiencing a lot of offloads across the board – especially for Cargo that is not routed directly. For example, if cargo leaves China and stops off at Dubai before arriving in South Africa, there is a now a far larger possibility that that cargo may be delayed at the transit point as capacity is prioritized for medical equipment.

Are charters an option?

Charters are an expensive option because a single customer would pay for the entire aircraft, fuel, landing rights etc. Please contact us if you would like to explore a Charter.

What is Ziegler doing to support its customers?

Ziegler maintain their strong focus on air freight and are well-positioned to cope with changes and challenges posed by Covid-19.  We are using our partnerships around the world to negotiate the best balance between space and service on an ongoing basis. The days of contract rates and fixed allocations are for now not there, only a Covid free world will determine where this story ends….

Is there any advice that Ziegler can give to its customers?

Sometimes, there are cheaper rates available, but this typically comes with risk with services not always being reliable. Over the years, Ziegler has formed trusted partnerships with airlines that provide a safe and dependable service. Lower rates often equal longer transit times due to inferior routings.


Please contact our pricing team for an estimate on your Air Cargo needs today, alternatively reach out to your Service Representative or direct call:

Our pricing team pricingteamjnb@ziegler.co.za or

Heidi Van Eck

Branch Manager & National Head of Air Product

(T)+27 11 394 4480 (Ext 1024)

(M)+27 82 949 1863