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Cargo congestion swamps Europe's airports

Forwarders and other stakeholders are being urged to help stem the chaos at airports, as multiple hubs and handlers across western Europe face severe congestion, with no sign of flows easing despite China’s holiday.

Cargo flows continue to be high – but also unpredictable – and handlers say they expect volumes to continue throughout the Chinese new year break.

Dnata at Schiphol is among the handlers struggling, with one airline reporting that the facility was “imploding”. Ross Marino, Dnata’s regional chief executive for Europe, explained that the handler had experienced “a perfect storm” of problems.

“Every week is a juggling act, and imports have got really busy,” he said. “Volumes tend to come in on Thursdays and keep coming on Friday and over the weekend – but stay in the warehouse till Monday.”

However, this month was worse, he explained.

“Our ETV (elevating transfer vehicle) system suffered a failure on 30 January, a Saturday. That led to a shutdown on imports, and then exports followed.

“Everywhere was full of pallets and dollies waiting to come into the warehouse, but there was nothing we could do as we needed to wait for a part from Germany. So there was a huge backlog of 450 pallets.

“Then we got hit by a snowstorm – the whole airport came to a standstill. Vehicles couldn’t collect, and then the airport was put on a code red alert, which added to the delays.

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