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  August 19th, 2015 | Written by

Labor Strife, Immigration Crisis Benefit Express Options in UK

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  • Shippers trying to get goods across the English Channel are increasingly choosing air cargo.
  • Priority Freight saw a 300-percent increase in air cargo bookings in July.
  • “The challenges for manufacturers and the European supply chain have only just begun.”

The summer-long crisis over immigration and striking French ferry workers has restricted access to seaports. Shippers trying to get goods between the UK and France find that trucks are backed up to the horizon in Dover, England and Calais, France, trying to get enter the Channel Tunnel.

Many of them are choosing air cargo options to get their products across the English Channel.

One beneficiary of the situation has been Priority Freight, a UK-based third-party logistics provider, which has seen a 300-percent increase in air cargo bookings for goods that would have otherwise been delivered by trucks.

“The demand for emergency logistics expertise has significantly grown since Operation Stack was first implemented at the end of June because of the cross-channel disruptions,” said Neal Williams, Priority Freight’s managing director.

Operation Stack refers to the procedure used by police to park trucks on local motorways when the Channel Tunnel is congested.

The need to consolidate shipments from several component suppliers also increased large aircraft charters by 600 percent in July, according to Williams. “While airfreight might cost more, ultimately it saves manufacturers money,” he added. “We estimate that emergency logistics can prevent losses of more than one-million pounds [$1.56 million] per hour for car manufacturers, by keeping productions lines running during periods of disruption.”

August is traditionally the quietest manufacturing period of the year, when UK plants cease production for a few weeks. “We anticipate that if the disruption continues into autumn and beyond, once production starts again, there will be a significantly higher cost to the UK supply chain,” said Williams.

The Freight Transport Association has already estimated that this summer’s troubles have cost the trucking industry $1.2 million per day, and nearly $400 million to the UK economy as a whole.

Finding an alternative to Operation Stack is not the solution, said Williams. The proposal to use a local airport as a temporary truck parking area when Operation Stack is in place will simply move the disruption and road congestion from the M20 motorway elsewhere.

“And will not provide enough capacity to accommodate the number of trucks we’ve seen parked on the M20 in July,” he added.

For Williams, managing the problem shouldn’t begin and end in Dover and Calais. “It’s the crises that necessitate Operation Stack in the first place that need to be addressed,” he said. “Politicians and countries need to take responsibility for the migrant crisis and find a compassionate solution to help the desperate men, women and children seeking refuge from other regions of the world.

“As the trouble across the channel continues to disrupt roads and put a strain on the UK economy, the challenges for manufacturers and the European supply chain have only just begun.”