It’s no secret that Brexit altered the scope for trade and travel for a lot of people since it became official. But is air freight operations exempt from this? And if not, how has it been affected?

In today’s blog, we will be discussing the question ‘Has Brexit affected air freight operations for e-commerce?’

Radius Warehouse and Logistics is here to provide you with all the information you need when it comes to the multiple areas of logistics that we provide, from sea, to air, to road freight solutions. Operating from the South West of England for over 20 years, or experience, and service is here for anyone who requires it.

What is air freight?

Air freight, also referred to as air cargo, is the transportation of goods and merchandise by air. It’s the fastest method of international shipping, making it ideal for time-sensitive cargo or perishables.

Overall, air freight plays a vital role in the global supply chain, enabling the rapid movement of goods across vast distances. However, it’s important to consider the cost factor when choosing airfreight compared to other shipping methods.

Here’s a breakdown of what air freight involves:

  • Transportation: Air freight uses aeroplanes, typically large cargo planes, to transport goods from origin airports to destination airports.

  • Goods: A wide variety of items can be shipped via air freight, including electronics, medicine, clothing, fresh produce, and even live animals (with specific regulations).
  • Services: Air freight companies offer various services to cater to different needs. This can include packing, customs clearance, documentation, and door-to-door delivery.

How is air freight different from other options?

  • Speed: Air freight is the fastest mode of long-distance shipping, making it crucial for businesses dealing with time-sensitive goods.

  • Cost: Airfreight is generally the most expensive option compared to sea freight or land transportation. However, the speed and reliability it offers can justify the cost for certain goods.
  • Security: Air cargo goes through stringent security checks at airports, making it a relatively secure mode of transportation.

What are the types of air freight?

  • General Cargo: This includes a wide variety of manufactured goods, such as electronics, machinery, and clothing.

  • Perishables: Fresh fruits, vegetables, and flowers are often shipped via air freight due to their short shelf life.
  • Dangerous Goods: Certain hazardous materials can be transported by air under strict regulations and packaging requirements.
  • Valuable Cargo: High-value items like jewellery, artwork, or precious metals are typically shipped via air freight due to the high level of security.

A breakdown of Brexit

Has Brexit Effected Air Freight Operations for e-Commerce

Brexit is the shorthand term for “British exit.” It refers to the United Kingdom’s decision to leave the European Union, a political and economic bloc of 27 member states. But why did it happen?

In 2016, the UK held a referendum (a public vote) on whether to remain a member of the EU. The result was narrow, with 52% voting to leave and 48% voting to remain. The reasons for wanting to leave were complex, but some key factors included:*

  • Immigration: Concerns about uncontrolled immigration from other EU countries.
  • Sovereignty: A desire for more national control over laws and regulations.
  • Economic Concerns: Belief that the EU membership wasn’t beneficial for the UK economy.

*Some have pointed out that some promises brought forward by voting Brexit were not relevant to it whatsoever, and certain campaigns were based upon false information.

Brexit 2024

As of today (May 22nd, 2024), the UK is no longer a member of the EU. A new trade deal between the UK and EU was negotiated and implemented in 2020, outlining the terms of their future economic relationship. However, adjustments to this new relationship and the long-term consequences of Brexit are still unfolding.

The Impact of Brexit:

The full impact of Brexit is still being debated and will likely continue to unfold for years to come. Potential effects include:

  • Trade: Increased trade barriers could affect the flow of goods and services between the UK and the EU.
  • Economy: The long-term economic impact on both the UK and the EU is uncertain.
  • Immigration: The UK now has a points-based immigration system, potentially impacting the movement of people.

Has Brexit affected air freight operations for e-commerce?

Yes, Brexit has impacted air freight operations for e-commerce businesses in a few ways:

Increased Costs and Paperwork

Paperwork is a standard part of e-commerce, especially when it is global. Due to Brexit foregoing the EU trade agreements, more paperwork is required, and alternative tariffs compared to what was already agreed beforehand with the EU.

  • Customs Declarations: Since the UK is no longer part of the EU’s single market, additional customs declarations and checks are required for goods moving between the UK and EU. This adds complexity and cost to the shipping process.
  • Import Duties and VAT: Depending on the type and value of goods, businesses may need to pay import duties and VAT (Value Added Tax) when shipping goods from the EU to the UK or vice versa. This can increase the landed cost of products for e-commerce businesses.

Potential Delays:

  • Customs Clearance: The additional customs checks can lead to delays in clearing goods through customs, impacting delivery times for e-commerce customers.

  • Border Disruptions: In some cases, there have been reports of disruptions at the borders, particularly between the UK and Northern Ireland, which can further delay shipments.

The impact of Brexit on air freight operations for e-commerce has been mixed. While there have been increased costs and potential delays, businesses and logistics providers have adapted to the new landscape. However, the full impact of Brexit is still unfolding, and it’s likely that some of these challenges will persist in the long term.

How has ecommerce and logistics worked around Brexit?

  • Ecommerce Businesses: Many e-commerce businesses have adapted by:

  • Absorbing some increased costs to maintain competitive pricing.
  • Raising prices for customers to reflect the higher shipping costs.
  • Using fulfilment centres within the EU to reduce customs burdens when shipping to EU customers.
  • Logistics Providers: Logistics companies have also adjusted by:
  • Streamlining customs clearance processes to minimize delays.
  • Investing in technology to improve efficiency at borders.

Can Britain return to the EU?

Has Brexit Effected Air Freight Operations for e-Commerce

Yes. However, rejoining the EU entirely seems unlikely in the near future. The UK would need to formally apply, meet membership criteria, and negotiate terms with all EU members. Political will on both sides is currently lacking.

However, a closer relationship with the EU isn’t out of the question. The UK could pursue a trade deal similar to other non-EU members like Norway, allowing access to the single market but with less control over regulations. This would require compromise but could offer some economic benefits.

Ultimately, the UK’s relationship with the EU will likely evolve over time. A full return to pre-Brexit status seems improbable, but a more integrated future isn’t entirely impossible. Some would argue that a return to the EU would be a bad idea, as Britain may have to rejoin under terns that were less favourable than when they were originally part of the EU.

Invest in air freight solutions today

We at Radius Warehouse and Logistics Services encourage you to get in contact with us to see how our services can benefit you. Alternatively, you can get a quote from us directly, or visit our help and advice page for anything further you may need help with.

We hope that our blog answered the question, ‘Has Brexit affected air freight operations for e-commerce?’

With over 20 years of experience as an independent freight forwarder, you can expect quality service from us. In addition to being a member of BIFA, and trading under the standard trading terms of BIFA, We are also staffed by a dedicated core of enthusiastic and efficient professionals.

Our staff’s many years of experience in this industry welcomes your enquiries and hope you can join our loyal and superb client base.