In Canada, shippers race to move cancer treatments as COVID-19 grounds flights

posted on 4th January 2021 by Eddie Saunders
In Canada, shippers race to move cancer treatments as COVID-19 grounds flights


Airlines are also moving to smaller planes with less cargo capacity which can lead to some goods being bumped.

“Shipments get bumped all the time because of aircraft capacity,” said Mike Stopay, director of Pacer Air Freight, a Toronto-area cargo specialist.

The recent pickup in transport of COVID-19 vaccines, equivalent to about 0.3% of global air freight, is not likely to displace time-sensitive medical products in cargo planes, said Marco Bloemen, managing director of Seabury Consulting, a division of Accenture Plc ACN.N .

Falling plane values, and a rise in e-commerce due to the pandemic, are also fueling a boom in converting passenger planes to freighters. Freighters have greater capacity but fly less frequently, creating a potential headache for some shippers of time-sensitive cargo.*:nL4N2IH1IG

Roy Bekic, logistic manager at the Centre for Probe Development and Commercialization in Ontario, said he depends on passenger flights to ship products to Australia via a connection in Vancouver. Delays have led him to lose a handful of shipments.

“For some of my Australian clients I have only about 90 hours before (the treatment) expires,” Bekic said.

The challenges are leading to higher transport costs, either to compensate for products lost due to delays, or because companies have fewer options to ship the materials.

Stephenson said McMaster, which has to transport more material to account for longer travel times, recently raised its shipping charges, after absorbing extra costs for months.

Gabriel Freitas, an executive at Vancouver-based isoSolutions, which specializes in sourcing and distributing products in nuclear medicine, said the company has faced increases in shipping prices ranging from around 20% to 30%.

Before COVID-19, Freitas could secure lower prices by searching competing flights.

“Now you go with whatever option you get.”

Photo Credit James Wheeler