Airport Congestion: Air Freight Frenzy

By Todd Patrick :: November 18, 2021

Airports are feeling the pinch now as ocean cargo is diverted to the skies to keep inventory levels stable throughout the holiday shopping peak season. Despite the speed with which air freight is known, current cargo is backlogged for days and in some cases weeks before forwarders can recover shipments. Airports like JFK and O’Hare have epic cargo handling abilities but in the face of so many shipments, they’re unable to keep up. 

Delays at JFK are running upwards of nine days to two weeks for cargo recovery. According to The Loadstar, “We are truly struggling with the air product, in JFK especially,” said one US freight forwarder. “There is huge congestion at JFK, while the airlines are not able to push the handlers.” Comments from the same source report “weeks and weeks of delays” and describe the situation as the worst they’ve seen in their 28 years as a forwarder. 

Beyond the struggle that the deluge of cargo causes, covid protocols, labor shortages, and capacity are creating a perfect storm of airport disruptions. As we head straight toward the holiday season, the situation isn’t expected to improve until well into 2022. The longer people ride the wave of shop-at-home convenience the more we expect to see delays. 

If there is a positive to this situation it is that air cargo manages disruption much better than ocean cargo. Alternative small airports outside of major hubs have already started assisting the larger players in taking overflow, with Rockford International stepping in on the excess cargo destined for O’Hare and the infrastructure advancements happening at Rickenbacker International Airport in Columbus, OH

CFI is working around the clock to make sure we minimize delays on all cargo, but especially shipments via air. These urgent and often delicate goods are temperature-controlled and sensitive to even the most minute changes in the weather so there’s no room for allowing unnecessary delays. Our decades of experience give us the network, partnerships, and understanding to create custom-tailored solutions for your cargo. If you want to know how CFI can help you manage your air freight needs, reach out to your representative today!

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