Massive Apple Air Freight Deal Could Mean iPad 3 Will Ship Even Sooner Than We Thought

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Apple is putting a squeeze on the air freight industry with a massive order of iPad 3 shipments, according to multiple reports today. As Wednesday’s announcement draws near, Apple has singlehandedly bought the majority of air cargo space coming out of China at premium rates. Other companies are reportedly scrambling to buy what little space Apple hasn’t already claimed.

Photos of what were allegedly iPad 3 units getting unloaded from planes surfaced about a week ago, as Apple has been shipping units into the United States for weeks. MacRumors says that at least one part number has been spotted in the cargo hubs where the tablets remain under lock and key. A mysterious second part number, MC744LL/A, has also been identified, indicating the increased possibility of a new Apple TV.

One shipping representative told MacRumors last week that his freight broker in China has been scrambling to find space for his company’s shipments, with shipping rates rising 20% in one week as Apple has snapped up available capacity at premium rates. Another shipping manager told us a similar story today, with his company being unable to find space with its usual carrier due to Apple’s demand and having to scramble to find alternatives for moving products overseas.

Coincidentally, AppleInsider is also reporting similar news. DHL, a large air freight company, has reportedly seen a “big change” in shipping costs, as Apple has bought up the space on flights from China (the location of Foxconn, Apple’s largest supply chain partner) to America.

With its $100 billion in cash, Apple certainly has the clout to put a strain on the entire shipping industry with a new product release. What’s more telling about this news is that the iPad 3 will likely be available for purchase sooner than we all thought. Speculation said we’d see availability by March 30th, but large shipments could mean almost immediate availability. Wouldn’t that be nice.