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Stormy weather disrupts Middle East supply chains network

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DUBAI : Unusual weather across the Persian Gulf region have sparked serious concerns for ocean and air freight stakeholders, dealing another blow to supply chains already caught up in worsening geopolitical setbacks after the Iran-Israel faceoff.

Cargo agents and other shipping industry sources in Dubai have reported significant cargo delays and backlogs, which they believe could take up to a week to clear up and return to normalcy.

Sources have also told that many ports in the region, including Jebel Ali Port, have had to deal with berthing delays because of extreme weather conditions.

“Over-the-road freight movements continue to remain disrupted at many places,” said a freight forwarder.

The forwarder source further noted: “Authorities are working at a swift pace to clear up the affected road networks,”

At the same time, container line sources have noted that leading port terminals in the region are now operating at near normal activity.

An executive at a major European container line said: “Most of the port operations are up and running, but the flooding is leading to cargo delays.”

Air freight verticals are said to have borne the brunt of the disruptions from torrential rains and storms, reportedly the most severe the UAE has experienced in 75 years.

Dubai Airport, the world’s busiest hub, has seen widespread flight cancellations and diversions for the last two days, after the storm alarmingly flooded the runway.

As the situation limps back to some sort of schedule, Air India operated two flights out of India yesterday, sources said.

Emirates has earlier lifted passenger check-in restrictions for Dubai departures from various locations.

“Customers impacted by flight cancellations should contact their booking agent or Emirates’ contact centre for rebooking,” the airline noted.

Emirates went on to explain: “There may still be delays to arriving and departing flights.”

It also added: “We are experiencing huge volumes of calls [from customers].”

However, Indian freight forwarder sources noted that most airlines were still to resume cargo handling and believe backlogs will push freight rates to new highs.

Thanks to improving demand, many container lines on India-Middle East trades have recently announced rate increases, averaging US$ 100 per TEU from West India to Jebel Ali.

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