Freight forwarding sector urges swift Government action to keep imports and exports flowing

Media Release, 24 March 2020


Decisive action from Government is needed to keep imports and exports moving through New Zealand and globally, says the freight forwarding industry body.

Rosemarie Dawson, Chief Executive of the Customs Brokers and Freight Forwarders Federation of New Zealand (CBAFF) welcomed the Minister of Transport’s announcement today, committing to ensuring key air freight channels remain open for high priority goods and to support exporters.

“However, it is also essential that air freight remains affordable for importers and exporters who cannot freight goods by sea,” says Ms Dawson. “Currently air cargo capacity has plummeted and air cargo rates are soaring to unaffordable levels.”

Ms Dawson said that, as an essential service, the sector was also looking to Government for rapid guidance around how its members would be permitted to operate. 

“Right now, industry is desperate to know about the ability to move cargo to ‘non-essential’ businesses. Otherwise wharves and container storage yards will choke and a fragile economy will be confronted with huge storage and other charges, such as demurrage and detention.  We also need to know about moving empty containers that are essential to carry NZ’s export cargo, ensuring exports can keep moving out.”

Ms Dawson said that the reality of the coming days, weeks and months is that more New Zealand exporters and importers will need to switch to sea, rather than air cargo, and factor the extra time required into their planning. International sea freight is operating normally, with some delays.

“But not all goods are suitable for shipping by sea. Air cargo capacity is a major challenge for our members at present. Most air cargo into and out of New Zealand is usually carried in the ‘belly space’ of passenger aircraft. Only two airlines, Qantas and Singapore Airlines, operate dedicated cargo flights in and out of New Zealand, with a few flights each week.

“Air New Zealand is currently still flying passenger craft, carrying freight, on its traditional routes, apart from out of London. Overall, however, the number of passenger flights are diminishing.

“We look forward to further updates from Government on their planned steps to ensure adequate air cargo capacity is maintained in ways that restore air cargo rates to affordable levels.”