Bogoslof Island might be small, but the impact it’s having on transpacific air freight operations has been significant in recent months.
A major impact
The volcano is located in Alaska and is a part of the Aleutian island chain that arcs between the Asian and American landmasses. It first erupted back in May, and has remained active ever since – with serious implications for the many transpacific routes whose flight paths cross the region. Eruptions in late June sent a huge amount of ash and steam into the atmosphere to a height of around 36,000ft – right into the path of many crucial air freight routes.
Experts say that the disruption could continue for a while yet.
“The volcano remains at a heightened state of unrest and in an unpredictable condition,” says the Alaska Volcano Observatory “Additional explosions producing high-altitude volcanic clouds could occur at any time.”
The volcanic activity at Bogoslof has led many air freight operators in the region to adjust their schedules, with a number of flights being cancelled as a result of the ash cloud. It’s a situation that puts increased pressure on a region already suffering as a result of poor weather in Shanghai and Hong Kong. It means that space is tight and that capacity is down for some companies.
Bad weather in China has also affected flights to the EU, once again seriously impacting the amount of space available. “Airlines are increasing rates to the EU, and bad weather meant about 20 flights in and out of Hong Kong have been cancelled,” one forwarder told The Loadstar, “So space to the EU is really affected.”
Hard to predict
Ignazio Coraci comments: “Natural events are hard – if not impossible – to see coming. However I believe that we can all try to build the capacity into our business models to ensure that the impact of these events is lessened in the future. Unfortunately the pressure that these situations put on our industry mean that it’s likely to have an impact not just on capacity, but prices as well.”