Monday, January 18, 2021
After months of extensive preparation, which included health checks, planning of routes, customs clearance and training for the bears, DHL Global Forwarding and FOUR PAWS, a global animal welfare organization, had the enviable task of transporting the two bears to their new home on December 17.Kelvin Leung, CEO, DHL Global Forwarding Asia Pacific, commented: "Being able to leverage our logistics expertise, temperature-controlled capabilities and customs clearance solutions to help animals, such as Bubloo and Suzie, relocate brings another perspective to our mission of 'Connecting People, Improving Lives'."The successful move, like so many others that we have done, might have required more elaborate planning but brought the teams so much satisfaction. We are glad that the bears are settling in their new home in time to ring in the New Year," said DHL chauffeured Bubloo and Suzie, weighing 120 kilogrammes and 90 kilogrammess respectively, to the Islamabad International Airport in custom-built cages that adhere to the International Air Transport Association's regulations. From there, they boarded their flight to Jordan with a short layover in Doha."We are pleased to report that, after their first-class flight experience that ended at the Queen Alia International Airport, Bubloo and Suzie are thriving in their new home," DHL said in a statement.
The airline's service to Johannesburg - flight QR1365, operated by an Airbus A350-900 - crossed into eastern Saudi airspace shortly after its departure during the evening of January 7.The carrier also restarted direct flights to Riyadh in Saudi Arabia on January 11 and will later add flights to Jeddah and Dammam.Qatar Airways' flights had been barred from the territory after a blockade - which also extended to the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Egypt - was put in place in June 2017.This meant the carrier was forced to fly longer diversionary routes on its network and also had to give up serving several destinations.But the diplomatic row was finally resolved during the first week of 2021 with Qatari and Saudi officials meeting at a Gulf Co-operation Council summit in Al-Ula, and Saudi Arabian authorities allowing the airspace and border to be re-opened.Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry says the summit "emphasised Gulf and Arab solidarity and stability" and stressed its appreciation for Kuwaiti government efforts to "heal the rift"."We are in dire need to unite our efforts to advance our region and to confront the challenges that surround us, especially the threats posed by the Iranian regime's nuclear programme," the ministry added.IATA said the decision to re-open Saudi, UAE, Bahraini and Egyptian airspace to Qatari flights is "welcome news" for the Middle East region.It stated that the blockade had extended typical one-hour journeys to more than 5 hours in some cases."The agreement paves the way for commercial airlines to resume regional connectivity, which will shorten flight times and provide essential air links to families and businesses," said the association's Middle East regional vice-president Muhammad Al Bakri.IATA added that the pact will support establishment of quarantine-free travel corridors and the shipping of vaccines, reports London's Air Cargo News.
The two parties will work towards developing a direct airlink between Brussels and India, with the European airport becoming SpiceJet's "first flight point in Europe".Brussels Airport will provide assistance to SpiceJet with regards to slots and networking contracts. They will also jointly work with the government, pharma companies and forwarders to ensure a "reliable ecosystem for vaccine delivery in a temperature-controlled environment"."The airline's cargo arm, SpiceXpress, envisions to provide rapid and secure transportation of Covid-19 vaccine from and to Europe and beyond with proper temperature-controlled mechanism under the MoU," SpiceJet said.SpiceJet chairman and managing director Ajay Singh said: "We are delighted to partner with Brussels Airport in our fight against the pandemic. This tie-up will help SpiceJet to seamlessly transport vaccines not only from Europe and beyond to India but also help Indian manufacturers export extremely sensitive drugs in a safe and controlled environment."Brussels Airport Company chief executive Arnaud Feist added: "We are very pleased to be partnering with SpiceJet and to be able to offer our expertise for the future distribution of vaccines from India within Europe and beyond."SpiceJet has also partnered with GMR Hyderabad Air Cargo, Om Logistics Ltd, Snowman Logistics among others as part of its Covid vaccine efforts, reports London's Air Cargo News.
A news release sent to the Budapest Business Journal said the project will cover some 125 hectares. The East-West Gate Terminal, located at a key strategic point in the economic corridor of the Belt and Road Initiative, is expected to be handed over in the first quarter of 2022. The construction of the substructure of the terminal and the normal railway connection is already in progress.The East-West Gate (EWG) will be the continent's first land-based intermodal combi terminal based on green technology using its own 5G network. The theoretical capacity of the terminal is one million TEU per year. The terminal, as the western gateway to the "New Silk Road", offers a faster alternative route to Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Germany for freight traffic from Asia than the current land and maritime routes, the press release notes.The EWG, which is being built at the meeting point of the Russian wide-gauge and the European narrow-gauge railways in Hungary, is also a new, high-capacity opportunity for the export traffic to Asia from Western Europe. In addition, it may also have an important role in the better utilisation of the Trans-Siberian Railway Network which has undergone significant improvements in recent years.The trial operation of the facility is scheduled to begin in January next year, while its final handover is scheduled for the first quarter of 2022. The EUR61 million (US$74.2 million) investment is financed entirely from private sources. The Hungarian Government has provided EUR8.2 million to EWG as job creation subsidy. There will be built five wide-gauge and five narrow-gauge, 850 metre long craneable tracks at the EWG terminal, therefore it will be possible to serve four 740-metre-long trains at the same time.According to the plans, the facility will be powered by green technology, in line with the EU's rail and climate strategy. A high-performance solar park as well as a heat pump system will provide power, and only electric terminal tractors and e-cars will be used in the terminal area.The terminal will provide a full range of logistics services and when the operation starts, offering customers 15,000 sqm of leasable warehouse space. On the available unbuilt areas, an additional 500,000 sqm of warehouse, assembly, or production space can be established if required, the release added.
According to Chinese media, China-Europe rail volumes reached 1.14 million TEU last year, up 56 per cent on the year before, while figures from China State Railway Group shop train journeys passing 10,000, for the first time, to 12,400.The volumes match those reported by the two major CIS railway companies, Russian Railways and narrow-gauge operator UTLC, which both announced volumes of over half a million TEU.However, bad weather and a dispute over Covid restrictions between Kazakhstan and China, has caused long delays for rail and road freight attempting the crucial border crossing, according to UK's The Loadstar.For example, according to media in Kazakhstan, in late December there were 7,000 containers waiting to cross into China via the Dostyk and Altynkol border, with some waiting 42 days.UTLC said it was trying a new border crossing at Goryn and Udritsk to "diversify cargo flows and reduce the load on border infrastructure". The express train ran between Chongqing and Slawkow, Poland, in 16 days.The border congestion and ongoing shortage of equipment has sent freight rates soaring, according to Siddique Khan, CEO of Globalink Logistics, a member of Kerry Logistics Network."China-Europe rail freight traffic is severely impacted due to the Covid-19 restrictions in China," he told The Loadstar. "This has resulted in a price increase up to approximately US$5,000 per TEU."The equipment shortage and allocation on the CN-EU lane means eastbound traffic from EU to CN is also affected."Furthermore, while some forwarders began touting Eurasian road freight as a viable alternative to the capacity crunch in air and ocean, the option of trucking from China appears to be off the table."Transit times for express trucking from China to Europe is around 16-18 days," explained Mr Khan. "Due to the speed, security and economy of price, CN-EU trucking delivers goods door to door and attracts high-value cargo, like electronics, fashion garments and spare parts."However, due to the China-Kazakhstan border restrictions, mainly imposed by the Chinese government, it takes 15-20 days to cross the border these days. Therefore, the Eurasian trucking solution is neither feasible nor economical right now."A full truckload price from China to Europe has almost doubled in the past two-to-three months, for example."
The worsening delays came despite terminals working longer hours, reports IHS Media.The overriding problem, terminal operators say, is that six straight months of near-record cargo volumes have congested the entire Southern California supply chain beyond its capacity. Terminal operators can't vacate laden import containers fast enough to keep up with the import surge and make room for the discharge of new arrivals."There is no room on the terminals," said Anthony Otto, president of Long Beach Container Terminal (LBCT).Average truck turn times at the 12 container terminals that make up the LA-LB complex rose to 93 minutes in December, according to Harbour Trucking Association (HTA) truck mobility data, up from the record low of 58 minutes in June when US imports from Asia plunged during the Covid-19 lockdowns. The large increase in turn times over the past few months demonstrates how rapidly the terminals went from fluid conditions early in 2020 to virtual gridlock by the fall.While truck turn times reflect congestion at the terminal gates, increasing container dwell times highlight the congestion in the terminal yards. Mr Otto noted that containers are sitting at the terminals for seven to eight days, compared with less than three days when import volumes were much lighter last spring and early summer.That is an indication that container terminals are buckling under container exchanges from mega-ships that continue to discharge record imports week after week, said Weston LaBar, CEO of the Harbour Trucking Association. "It's more volume than the terminals were designed to handle," Mr LaBar said.Ships keep arriving in port and there were 59 container ships in the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex a week ago, with 25 of the vessels being worked and 34 at anchor awaiting berthing space, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Another 15 container ships were scheduled to have arrived in port through last Thursday.The truest indication of the impact six straight months of imports from Asia totalling about 800,000 TEU per month is having on the port complex is that all 12 of the container terminals are struggling to handle the volumes. That includes terminals that had consistently had the lowest truck turn times in the harbour.Mr LaBar said the busiest terminals have been especially challenged in getting sufficient workers during the Covid-19 pandemic because the allotment of longshore workers is rationed due to declining labour availability. "The labour shortages are covid-related," he said.The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents West Coast employers, has steering committees in each region that assign labour based on the history of demand as well as the current demand for labour in each region, Jim McKenna, PMA president, said. "So far these guys have been very accurate," he said.However, the total labour force in Southern California has been reduced because of Covid-19, which means fewer longshore workers are being assigned to each terminal, Mr McKenna said. "Today, 150 to 170 longshoremen are quarantined [in Southern California]," he said. That includes dockworkers who tested positive and others who have come in contact with someone who tested positive, he added. Workers in every area of the terminal, including the maintenance and repair longshore workers who repair chassis, have been affected.However, Mr McKenna said those longshore workers who are able to work are spending more time on the job. Each longshore worker in Los Angeles-Long Beach worked on average 5.2 shifts per week in December, up from 4.5 shifts in December 2019. In addition, the PMA and International Longshore and Warehouse Union have been adding 30 skilled equipment operators each month since last fall. "It's an ongoing process," Mr McKenna said.
Feeder and barge services were suspended earlier this month to allow staff time to quarantine before travelling home for China's most important holiday that begins February 12.Swamped with sustained and heavy demand from European and US shippers, the suspension of feeder services linking the hubs of Hong Kong and Shenzhen to China's inland manufacturing centres is further disrupting the regional supply chain.Chairman of the Hong Kong Liner Shipping Association, Roberto Giannetta, described the suspension of services as "disconcerting", adding that his group has asked the governments of Hong Kong and Guangdong Province to consider revising the Covid-19 restrictions for crew in the same way airlines provide crew rotations, reports IHS Media."We alerted them that, in the absence of these feeder services, it would be difficult for all lines to meet current demands for import and export from both Hong Kong and/or Shenzhen, and this is what has now happened," he said. "A number of lines have already suspended acceptance of cargo bookings in this period," Mr Giannetta added. "This means that either the shipping lines are rejecting such cargo requests, or alternate arrangements incurring additional costs are being introduced to handle the cargo demand."Ocean Network Express (ONE) became the latest carrier to suspend bookings for cargo bound for ports in South China and Fujian until mid-February, joining Hapag-Lloyd, CMA CGM, and OOCL that in December announced a hold on import bookings.Asia-Europe supply chains are creaking under the weight of strong demand from European importers that have overwhelmed available vessel capacity and created a severe equipment imbalance. Shippers are already facing huge increases in rates, with average spot rates on Asia-Europe at record levels.Facing such high prices, some European shippers are delaying the export of whatever cargo they can until after Chinese New Year in the hopes that rates will decline after the holidays. But that might be wishful thinking, said Marco Reichel, business development director for Asia Pacific at Crane Worldwide Logistics. He said warehouses in South China were filling up as shippers held on to their cargo, but how rates would develop through the first quarter remained very uncertain."We are not 100 percent sure the rate will relax after Chinese New Year," Mr Reichel said. "The greater expectation is that the rate level will stabilise at this [current] level until at least the second half."
Announced blank sailings for what is normally shipping's slack season are far fewer this year than previously. The data shows that, across the transpacific, Asia-Europe and transatlantic trades, just 1.7 per cent and 0.6 per cent of head haul sailings have so far been cancelled in February and March respectively, compared with the 19.9 per cent and 9.4 per cent sailings cancelled in the same months last year.And very few sailings have so far been cancelled for the second quarter, whereas last year, cancellations amounted to 14.7 per cent of expected sailings, reports The Loadstar, UK.According eeSea's Trade Capacity Index, this has translated into a year-on-year increase in TEU capacity of 7.6 per cent this month over January 2020, and the data also shows February and March are up by 34 per cent and 17 per cent respectively, partly due to fewer cancellations.Simon Sundboell, chief executive of eeSea, said: "It's understandable that cargo owners and their related interests are frustrated by the tight ocean capacity situation these days."The impact on their businesses is huge. But there seems to be an impression that carriers are deliberately holding back capacity to push up freight rates. We don't see that. In fact, effective trade capacity is up."Just reading the news, we can see that carriers are snapping up any available charter tonnage. There is no idle capacity left, carriers are delaying scrapping, and the first new tonnage orders have even been placed," Mr Sundboell added.New data published by Sea-Intelligence Consulting chimed with that analysis, showing that, as of the beginning of this year and with several weeks to go until Chinese New Year, carriers have only announced five blank sailings on the transpacific and seven on Asia-Europe during the holiday.Sea-Intelligence said last year 73 sailings had been blanked due to Chinese New Year (although a further 15 were blanked as the pandemic began in earnest) and 67 in 2019.
The group's volume increased by 1.7 per cent over 2019, with flagship PSA Singapore contributing 36.6 million TEU, down 0.9 per cent. PSA terminals outside Singapore handling 50 million TEU, an increase of 3.7 per cent compared to the previous year..Tan Chong Meng, Group CEO of PSA, said: "2020 was an extraordinary year which saw the world collectively respond to the challenges and changes from Covid-19."As a Group, PSA has demonstrated agility and performed credibly against the backdrop of a global pandemic and resulting recession, playing our part alongside as an essential business to keep supply chains open safely."Looking ahead, Mr Tan said that 2021 will continue to give the company the opportunity "to reset and reform", as a business and as individuals."PSA will continue to invest and innovate on solutions to improve supply chain transparency and to create possibilities for smarter resource efficiencies. Our goal is to move the world's goods, for the greater good," Mr Tan said in a statement.
Asia-Mediterranean rates slipped 0.04 per cent to $4,296 per TEU, according to the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI).Rates from Shanghai to US west coast were down 0.87 per cent to $4,054 per FEU. China-US east coast rose 1.05 per cent to $4,800 per FEU.