The Freight Transport Association (FTA) fears the cost to business – and consumers – will escalate as the Icelandic volcanic ash cloud casts its shadow further. With goods such as fresh produce and pharmaceuticals reliant on air freight, the impact could be widespread, with some retailers warning that consumers could see depleted shelves by early next week.
Although air freight is responsible for moving less than one per cent of goods, which are as diverse as mobile phone SIM cards and Kenyan green beans, by volume, it represents a quarter of the overall value.
Many of these goods, like vaccines and fresh produce, have a limited shelf life and it is here that FTA is expecting the most disruption.
Christopher Snelling, FTA’s Head of Global Supply Chain Policy, said:
"The longer that UK airspace is closed for business, the greater the damage, not just to businesses here, but also for farmers in the developing countries who rely on exporting their produce to Europe. Their livelihoods are in serious jeopardy."
FTA’s members are watching the skies carefully – and counting the cost of this unexpected disruption.