The shipping crisis is boosting demand for air cargo, with desperate retailers sending the price of an air freight charter to record levels.
According to Air Charter Service, a trans-Pacific charter on a Boeing 777 costs around $2 million a pop. According to the UK-based air charter service, the pre-pandemic peak price for such a charter was $750,000.
It could get even more expensive for companies trying to ship goods out of Vietnam with rates in the $2.5 million to $3 million range, said Edward DeMartini, vice president of air logistics development for North America at Kuehne+Nagel, per American Shipper.
Vietnam is a major manufacturing base for clothes, shoes, and electronics. But a months-long lockdown and recent worker exodusfrom the country's business hub have caused operational disruptions on the factory floors and at ports.
Such bottlenecks come amid recovering demand from the US and Europe, stressing global supply chains.
"We're chartering like mad," Marc Schlossberg, executive director for air cargo at New York-based Unique Logistics, told American Shipper.
Sportswear giant Nike is one of those using more air freight, reported trade publication Retail Dive.
E-commerce giant Amazon is also reportedly shopping for secondhand cargo jets to avoid major port delays.
"If you had asked me a few years ago whether anyone would take an option of an aircraft positioned in at that price, I would have said it'll never happen, but some shippers have simply been left with no other options," said Dan Morgan-Evans, Global Cargo Director at Air Charter Service in a website post earlier this month.
Around 90% of the world's traded goods are carried via ocean freight, as it's typically four to six times cheaper than air freight.
But Morgan-Evans said the company was starting to receive calls from "retailers who normally wouldn't dream of chartering" to cope with an increase in shipping demand.
"October is probably going to be one of the worst months [ever] in terms of airfreight transportation for the shipping community," said DeMartini, according to American Shipper.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider