We spoke to Financial Times about the effects of #OpStack on Logistics
We spoke to the Financial Times about the effects of Operation Stack on logistics.
Calais migrant crisis hits UK business
With the migrant crisis at Calais showing little sign of abating, British businesses are being forced to find alternative and more expensive ways to transport their goods over the Channel.
Many companies have turned to quick-fix solutions such as chartering aircraft to transfer critical components or goods as road delays have worsened, both around Dover and on the French side.
One emergency air freight company said it had experienced a significant increase in demand from manufacturers seeking to move parts that would have previously been transported by road. Neal Williams, managing director at Dover-based Priority Freight, said in the four weeks from June 23, his company chartered 78 aircraft to move goods, compared with just 30 in the same period last year.
This represented about £900,000 worth of aircraft charters, he said, up from £160,000 last year.
Mr Williams said the majority of the company’s business was coming from car manufacturers, which risk costly disruptions to production if they do not get their parts on time. “The disruption to the Eurotunnel means the flow of traffic coming inbound is incredibly delayed, which means manufacturers need to find alternative solutions to getting product to their factories,” he added.
Another emergency logistics provider, Evolution Time Critical, said it had also seen air charter inquiries run at three to four times the normal levels. “When the problem first arose, we were completely inundated,” said Brad Brennan of Evolution.
The problems at Calais have escalated in recent days as thousands of migrants have changed tactics and have tried to storm the Channel tunnel entrance each night in large numbers. Eurotunnel, the company that operates the tunnel, said the security problems were resulting in severe disruption to its overnight freight services.
In Kent, Operation Stack was in place for all of last week, adding to delays on the roads around Dover. This emergency measure, which has been around for the past two decades, results in the police shutting down parts of the M20 to deal with queueing lorries travelling towards the continent.
The delays are already having a devastating impact on the UK’s road freight industry, where 2.5m vehicles transport about £200bn worth of UK trade between Calais and Dover each year.
The Freight Transport Association, which represents almost half the fleet of UK lorries, estimates the cost to the industry at about £750,000 a day from lorries held up in traffic jams.
The government is looking at whether more ferry capacity can be added to different crossings in an effort to ease congestion at Calais. No 10 officials said ports in Hull, Portsmouth and Plymouth all had spare capacity which could be used.
But some are sceptical whether these measures will solve the problem. The Freight Transport Association said the government needed to come up with longer term solutions. “It is an additional cost for hauliers to drive to other ports. If the truck drives another 40 or 50 miles then that adds to costs,” said the FTA.
Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, also called for a longer-term solution after warning the disruption was having a damaging effect on the Scottish seafood sector.
Rolls-Royce, the British carmaker, said the Calais crisis had caused delays to incoming car parts. “We have experienced disruption to our production. It’s a challenge, it’s disruptive and we’d rather it wasn’t happening,” a spokesman said.