Santa’s logistics elves make major moves to get presents out

With sleigh bells ringing and parcels scanning, the holiday season has Santa’s logistics helpers planning.

As the holidays approach, air cargo and logistics are seeing their seasonal boost in volumes when consumer buying habits pick up for the holidays. To avoid the logistics debacle of yuletide past that left some customers gift-less and upset, integrators are preparing to meet forecasted record volumes in demand during this year’s short holiday season.

While exact results for fourth quarter volumes will not be issued until well after the holidays, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s logistics network Cainiao already shipped an estimated 1 billion packages solely for China’s Double Eleven shopping holiday, on Nov. 11. Amazon is also already on track to deliver around 3.5 billion of its own packages to customers this holiday season, far surpassing Morgan Stanley’s forecast released earlier this month that the e-tailer giant would ship some 2.5 billion of its own packages this year.

Integrators have worked over the last several months to meet the seasonal bump in demand by increasing capacity, infrastructure and services. UPS expanded its international time-definite and urgent shipment services and Alibaba upped its majority stake investment in Cainiao ahead of the holidays. Meanwhile, DHL Express began adding new daily flights into Chicago O’Hare (ORD) to free up capacity at its Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky (CVG) hub ahead of peak season.

However, consumers have already had some reason for concern this holiday logistics season.

In its move to develop its own logistics network, Amazon reportedly hit some holiday hiccups due to bad weather and potential staffing challenges. Delay for packages the first full week of holiday season is concerning, but it remains to be seen whether any other potential disruption in its network will emerge with Christmas only days away. In any case, as a logistics provider, Amazon is under tremendous pressure this holiday season.

Beyond global trade forecasts, holiday shopping has spurred various trade lanes into hyperdrive.

DHL Express has seen a massive boom in volumes along inbound trade lanes to the U.S. from China, Hong Kong and Italy and the U.K, with top lanes on the outbound side moving cargo from the U.S. to Canada, Mexico and Australia, as well as back to China and the U.K, DHL Express U.S. CEO Greg Hewitt told Air Cargo World.

Trade along those lanes “is being driven almost exclusively by e-commerce. We also see the strong fashion brands in Italy and the U.K. are selling well online here in the United States,” Hewitt said. “We’ve also seen stronger outbound growth [from the U.S.] this year than we have in prior periods,” he added.

Needless to say, air cargo has worked tirelessly to meet this year’s holiday seasonal demand, despite 2019’s challenging political environment. While some carriers have already shared with Air Cargo World their expectations that volumes may drop again after the holidays, it will be interesting to watch how trade and cargo perform in 2020 amid continuing global trade uncertainty and evolving stratagems in logistic giants’ development wars.

In the coming days, Air Cargo World will share its review of top logistics technologies for 2019 and predictions for emerging trends over the coming year. So, stay tuned and check back in soon. Until then, Air Cargo World wishes everyone Happy Holidays.

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