What We're Reading: BDP Trendwatch Week 49

Container shortages the biggest disrupter: where are all the empty boxes?

Some container vessels have been sailing from Asia to Europe under-utilised in recent weeks due to an acute shortage of empty boxes.

A carrier source told The Loadstar: “We have had to sail light a few times recently as there are just not enough boxes at depots [in China] to meet the demand.”

All carriers report severe shortages of the popular 40ft high-cubes (HCs) at their depots, and there has also been a run on 40ft standard boxes – even 20ft containers are sometimes showing as unavailable.

Source: The Loadstar


ESC and Clecat demand change to failing ocean freight market

European shipper and forwarder representatives ESC and Clecat are urging container lines to review their current operational and business practices and return to “respecting schedule reliability and service quality” in accordance with their contractual terms with customers, as ocean freight customers struggle to maintain supply chains in the current environment.

The European Shippers’ Council (ESC) and the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistic and Customs Services (Clecat) said the current conditions in the ocean freight market are slowing economic recovery of European businesses, calling on all parties “to work together to ensure that the maritime supply chain becomes more reliable, predictable, and resilient”.

Source: Lloyd´s Loading List


Some services to Covid-hit LA cancelled, but air cargo rates hold steady

Air China has cancelled all flights to Los Angeles until 10 December, as has China Southern, according to a Chinese forwarder.

She anticipated similar moves from China Eastern, although it is expected that Xiamen Airlines would continue.

The suspensions are due to a further outbreak of Covid-19 in the Californian city, where residents have been told to stay at home.

Source: The Loadstar


Demand for Dirty Fuel Jumps With More Ships Running Pollution Kits

An increase in vessels being fitted with pollution-reducing kits and unusually strong demand for container shipping is providing a boost to the dirtiest marine fuel.

The number of ships fitted with scrubbers rose by 80% from January through to October, despite activity grinding to a halt in February due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Stephen Gordon, managing director of Clarksons Research. Most have been installed on container and dry bulk vessels, according to data from DNV GL. Ships need scrubbers if they want to burn high-sulfur fuel oil after the start of new rules this year that mandated the use of cleaner-burning fuels.

Source: Supply Chain Brain, Bloomberg


Port Authority of New York, New Jersey proposes $1.2B cut to 2021 construction

The Port Authority oversees aviation, rail, surface transportation and seaport facilities in the New York City area. Although it's not clear which projects would be impacted by the cuts, Executive Director Rick Cotton indicated that those under construction now - including LaGuardia and Newark airports and their accompanying AirTrains - would continue, according to NorthJersey.com.

Due to the intense drop in vehicle traffic and passengers from the pandemic, the Port Authority is expecting a $3 billion revenue loss by 2021, according to NJ.com.

Source: Supply Chain Dive


India's plans to regulate ocean freight rates come under fire

The Indian government is planning to force shipping lines and agents to provide “all-inclusive” freight rates.

The shipping ministry’s draft Merchant Shipping Bill 2020 says carriers involved with import, export or domestic transport “shall specify the all-inclusive freight in the bill of lading or any other transport document”.

And it adds: “No service provider or agent shall levy any freight charges other than the all-inclusive freight specified.”

Source: The Loadstar


Airlines Face ‘Mission of the Century’ in Shipping Vaccines

In cooled warehouses on the fringes of Frankfurt airport, Deutsche Lufthansa AG is preparing its depleted fleet for the gargantuan task of airlifting millions of doses of the vaccines meant to end the global pandemic.

Lufthansa, one of the world’s biggest cargo carriers, began planning in April in anticipation of the shots that Pfizer Inc. to Moderna Inc. and AstraZeneca Plc are developing in record time. A 20-member task force is at work devising how to fit more of the crucial payload onto the airline’s 15 Boeing Co. 777 and MD-11 freighters, along with hold space in a vast passenger fleet now flying at just 25% of capacity.

Source: Supply Chain Brain, Bloomberg


Resilience is top of the agenda for supply chain strategy in 2021

Supply chain executives regard resilience as their top priority for the coming year, according to the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM).

Resilience came top of the organisation’s annual list of trends this year, well ahead of flexible shipping, fulfilment options and the proactive use of digital supply chains, noted Peter Bolstorff, executive vice-president corporate development.

Source: The Loadstar


HTA’s LaBar assails ocean carrier charges and supply chain dislocations

Weston LaBar, president of the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA), based in Long Beach, California, told AJOT that recent ocean carrier practices have led to congestion and application of unfair charges for detention and demurrage on truckers and shippers that “will result in the loss of cargo” at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

LaBar said that, so far during 2020, unreasonable detention and demurrage charges have cost shippers over $100 million in Southern California: “Ocean carriers should be working with shippers, truckers and terminals to reduce detention and demurrage down to zero, instead they’re making money on the practices.”

Source: AJOT


Britain Braces for Logistics Havoc as Brexit’s Final Act Looms

The U.K. faces a logistics nightmare that could bring delays and shortages in essential goods after the country completes its exit from the European Union at the beginning of next year.

On Jan. 1, the free movement of goods across the English Channel is due to end for the first time in half a century. The change has sparked fears of severe bottlenecks at British ports and highways, where customs officers will inspect trucks amid an acute lack of staff that could rattle supply chains.

Source: The Wall Street Journal


Carriers unlikely to repeat this year’s success in 2021

Next year's outlook for container lines remains clouded but it is unlikely that 2021 will be as profitable for carriers as this year has turned out to be.

“What has benefited demand in 2020 is that fact that consumers could not spend money on services and instead spent what they had on containerised goods,” BIMCO chief shipping analyst Peter Sand said in his latest outlook for the sector.

Source: Lloyd´s Loading List


Covid-19 sees vessel operating costs rise at their fastest pace in over a decade

Vessel operating costs have risen at their fastest pace in over a decade this year, on higher insurance cover premiums and Covid-19 related expenses, according to new research carried in shipping consultancy Drewry’s Ship Operating Costs Annual Review and Forecast 2020/21 report.

Drewry estimates that average daily operating costs across the 47 different ship types and sizes covered in the report jumped 4.5% in 2020, compared to underlying increases of 2% and 2.5% respectively in the previous two years. This followed a period in which opex spending stagnated or contracted over three consecutive years by 8% in 2015-17.

Source: Splash247.com


Westports prepares for terminal expansion in 2021

Malaysia's Westports has disclosed that work on its MYR10 billion (US$2.4 billion) terminal expansion will begin in 2021.

This disclosure came with its third quarter results, which showed a 5.5% increase in cumulative net profit to MYR491 million (US$118.03 million), as throughput in the three months to September grew by 6% year-on-year to 2.93 million TEU. Cumulative throughput during the nine month period was 7.73 million TEU, down 4% on-year, due to the disruptions caused by Covid-19.

Source: Container News


Trade Associations Call on FMC to Address Bottlenecks and Port Charges

Retailers and other shippers are experiencing growing delays and increased charges as ports across the United States struggled this fall to keep up with the rapid increase in container volume and number of ships seeking to load and unload. The Home Furnishings Association (HFA), the trade group for U.S. home furnishing retailers, and other industry groups joined together in a letter to the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) seeking actions to clear the bottlenecks at the ports.

The letter cites worsening delays and inefficiencies especially at the Southern California ports, which the associations say are knotting an already constricted supply chain and raising costs for many furniture importers, manufacturers and retailers. As an interim step until longer-term solutions can be developed to improve port operations, the letter asks the FMC to suspend detention and demurrage charges on containers and chassis at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports.

Source: The Maritime Executive