Air Cargo Giants Disrupted by Israel-Hamas War

Date: Thursday, October 12th, 2023
Source: Sourcing Journal

Major cargo airlines temporarily suspended operations to Israel after the country declared war following the Hamas terrorist attack. Military airstrikes in the Gaza Strip briefly disrupted logistics activity.

After pausing international flights to Israel on Monday, FedEx Express confirmed Tuesday that it resumed inbound and outbound routes.

“We continue to provide both air and ground services in Israel in line with government requirements and are closely monitoring the situation,” a FedEx spokesperson said. A company service update stated that pickup and delivery operations will be performed “according to local authority instructions and where safe and possible.”

The two service centers that FedEx has in Israel are operating at normal hours.

Chief rival UPS said early Tuesday that it temporarily suspended flights into and out of Israel and is also closely monitoring the situation.

“We have contingency plans in place to move shipments that are already in Israel to their destinations as quickly as it is safe to do so,” a spokesperson for UPS told Sourcing Journal.

In a service alert, UPS recommended that customers track their packages on its website. Shipments affected by the conflict would include the exception code “C5-Emergency.”

The UPS money-back guarantee does not apply when service is affected by circumstances outside of its control.

All three UPS facilities in the country are operating as usual.

FedEx and UPS are no stranger to the effects of international conflict on their operations. After Russia invaded Ukraine in early 2022, both UPS and FedEx suspended nearly all operations in Ukraine, Belarus and Russia and still aren’t active in those areas.

Amazon, which committed to investing $3.7 billion in Israel through 2037 and recently launched data centers for its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud computing unit in the country, has not indicated whether cargo entering and exiting the region has been impacted.

Ground deliveries in Israel are currently paused, according to an Amazon spokesperson. All Amazon customers orders are delivered by third-party partners.

The company’s CEO, Andy Jassy, posted on X, formerly known as Twitter, pledging support via humanitarian relief efforts.

Amazon has a disaster response and relief apparatus that uses the company’s global logistics capabilities, and usually responds to crises such as hurricanes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. According to its website, Amazon has donated more than 23 million relief items since 2017 to support people affected by more than 100 global disasters.

Another global logistics giant, DHL, has continued to operate in and out of Israel without any temporary flight shutdowns. A spokesperson said the company is closely monitoring the situation “and will adapt our operations as necessary.”

Lufthansa Cargo also notified customers that freighter flights to Tel Aviv are canceled through Thursday and that an embargo on receiving new shipments to Israel will run until Sunday.

Goods entering and exiting the country are likely to have slight delays. In the early afternoon on Tuesday, aircraft tracking site Flightradar24 showed an average delay of 56 minutes for flights arriving at Ben Gurion International Airport in Tel Aviv, and 55 minutes for departures.

Cargo airlines represent just a portion of the air disruption that has resulted from the Israel-Hamas war.

The three major U.S. carriers that fly to the country, including American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and United Airlines, suspended direct flights to Israel. American canceled flights through Friday, while United said canceled flights until conditions are safe. Delta has canceled direct flights to Tel Aviv for the rest of the month.

Regulators including the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency and Israel’s Civil Aviation Authority, urged airlines to use caution in the region’s airspace, but stopped short of suspending flights.

The logistics disruption comes as major retailers have closed their area stores for the time being. H&M said its local franchise partner has temporarily closed all stores in Israel “until further notice.” On its website, the company says “there may be delays in delivery times” due to the situation.

Fast-fashion competitor Inditex is temporary closing all 84 Zara stores in the country as well. A note on its its website states that return timeframes will be extended by 30 days from the time each store reopens. Ikea closed all Israeli stores Tuesday, as well as its customer service center, according to a message on its website.

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