Retailers have started to mention airport congestion as a challenge in their calls with investors. “While we aspire to improve our on-time deliveries for holiday by adding air capacity and utilizing alternate ports, the supply chain situation continues to be volatile,” Gap CFO Katrina O’Connell said on a Nov. 23 call. “[O]ngoing port delays are worsening, and air charters are causing new airport congestion.” David Shaffer, CEO of the battery manufacturer EnerSys, concurred in a Nov. 11 call. “The freight lines, both air and sea, are just congested, the ports are congested, and it’s been a big frustration for all of us.”

The ominous omicron variant threatens to deliver another blow to air freight. Airlines’ stocks have slid since news of the variant broke, as investors are predicting that its spread will dampen passenger air travel. Fewer passenger flights would mean less freight flying in the cargo holds below passengers’ feet, reducing overall air cargo capacity.

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