Airfreight firm DHL Express is experiencing strong growth in New Zealand - including delivering Covid-19 vaccines.
While consumer e-commerce has boomed during the last 16 months, the firm forecasts business to business growth will be the strongest growing segment into this decade.
"Over the years, we have seen a steady increase in consumers and businesses shifting their purchases online, but the pandemic has forced many Kiwi businesses into the digital world at a rapid rate," said Mark Foy, DHL Express NZ country manager.
His firm has benefited from a lack of airline cargo capacity as fewer passenger flights mean less opportunity to ship freight by air and constraints on sea freight was also contributing.
''There's a lack of commercial aviation capacity - we're seeing that movement from sea freight to airfreight and from air freight to express. It moves up the chain generally,'' said Foy.
During the past year DHL had expanded in New Zealand and its workforce had grown by 25 per cent to about 380 with another 100 contractors working for it.
''We've had some challenges getting skilled staff from overseas offices. I'm a bit nervous for this peak period coming into Christmas - that's the challenge we're hearing about from Australia and Europe and there's concern about how well New Zealand handles that.''
Foy said before the pandemic managers and specialist staff had been able to move freely to areas where there was demand for their services, this was no longer the case.
Airfreight and parcels were faring better than sea cargo, which has been knocked out of kilter by the pandemic.
''Airfreight moving well, certainly in lockdown there were challenges out of China, there's sporadic glitches but 95 per cent of the time it's flying pretty smoothly.''
His firm was carrying textiles, fashion, cosmetics and beauty out of New Zealand, mainly to Australia and the United States and machinery, electronics and vehicle parts into New Zealand. It was handling Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine, including the country's largest shipment of 150,000 doses which arrived on Sunday afternoon.
Earlier this year it said it had arranged for the collection and airfreight of the vaccines from the manufacturing site in Europe and upon the vaccines' arrival at Auckland Airport it would handle the customs clearance and final delivery to designated locations in New Zealand.
Because the vaccine had to be stored at very low temperatures its cold-chain network had been planned to every last detail.
Foy said numbers from the most important shopping events, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, demonstrated the increase in international online e-commerce shipment volumes.
DHL Express New Zealand witnessed a 50 per cent year-on-year rise in shipment volume during the peak months of November and December.
In 2020, DHL Express delivered 484 million shipments in total for its customers (B2C and B2B) around the globe, around 9 per cent more per day than in 2019.
A study by the firm predicts by 2025, 80 per cent of all business to business (B2B) sales interactions between suppliers and professional buyers will take place in digital channels.
The International Air Transport Association says that airlines are carrying about 5 per cent more cargo than they were before the pandemic.