July 7 - Chapman Freeborn Airchartering has reported a sharp spike in demand for air cargo charters in response to the gridlock caused by striking workers blockading the French port of Calais.

With thousands of HGVs (heavy goods vehicles) and other commercial vehicles left stranded by the industrial action, European manufacturers and freight forwarders sought air charters to beat the blockade.

Pierre van der Stichele, Chapman Freeborn's cargo business development director, said: "The Calais strike last week had the potential to cripple production for many of our UK-based clients because crucial manufacturing parts were caught up in the shut-down. This has resulted in an unseasonable surge in demand for both charter and on board courier (OBC) services.

"The knock-on effect of the strikes has also been felt by our offices across Europe - particularly our team in Germany which is at the centre of the automotive logistics business."

Various freighter aircraft have been utilised by Chapman Freeborn to airlift consignments of time-critical cargo to the UK.

Van der Stichele adds: "In today's charter market it's almost unheard of to use wide-body freighters like MD-11Fs on routes such as Liege to Doncaster - but if that 80 tonnes of cargo is delayed it can cost the manufacturer millions to suspend the production line."