What is currently shaping the air freight market? What about sea freight? What about the rail connection with China? Read more.
The latest IATA statistics show that demand for capacity has now exceeded pre-COVID levels again. At the same time, global airfreight capacity has fallen by 12%. As a result, capacity constraints continue to exist on most trades. The situation is exacerbated by the impact of the Suez Canal blockade. The resulting backlog on the sea route is also expected to have a significant impact on air freight.
SENATOR INTERNATIONAL offers solutions to this. Starting on April 19th, 2021, additional charter cargo flights with B-767-300F and B777F will operate from Shanghai (PVG) to Germany for a limited period of two weeks. Last departure is expected on May 02nd.
Demand from and to North America continues to boom. Here as well, SENATOR INTERNATIONAL offers solutions: with additional flights on the "SAB" SENATOR Atlantic Bridge. In order to cover high utilization rates to Mexico City (MEX), three self-controlled freighter flights are currently operating weekly from Frankfurt-Hahn (HHN) to Mexico City (MEX).
After the release of M/V EVER GIVEN in the Suez Canal, the ship is still anchored in Great Bitter Lake. It is still unclear when the container carrier will be allowed to resume its voyage. The blockade of the Suez Canal has long since been lifted. Almost all waiting ships have been able to pass through the canal. Booking stops recently announced by various shipping companies have now - in most cases - already been lifted: New bookings are possible again in some cases.
The situation for global shipping remains critical. The main reason for this is the continuing acute shortage of available containers. This shortage is exacerbated by the backlog in the main European ports. The consequences of the canal blockade will probably continue to affect shipping schedules into May.
For exports from Europe to Asia, ships remain fully booked in April. Short-term bookings can hardly be placed or only at extra cost. Fuel prices are rising, bunker surcharges are being adjusted. All sea freight rates remain at a high level. No relief is expected before the end of June.
Due to ongoing congestion at major hubs such as Port Kelang (Malaysia) and Singapore, additional delays of up to 5 days have to be expected. Furthermore, currently all services to/from Karachi & Port Qasim (Pakistan) are delayed by approx. 4 to 6 days.
For export from Europe to North America and Mexico, the space situation remains unchanged: full ships, high rates. Many shipowners have limited interest in new business as they struggle with current volumes. For urgent shipments, CMA CGM and Hapag Lloyd offer booking by priority service.
For imports from Asia to Europe, the already tight equipment situation is further exacerbated by the consequences of the Suez Canal blockade. In addition, heavy congestion is expected in European ports, which could be followed by longer handling times. These factors should be considered for all bookings.
For all export shipments to Egypt, a so-called ACID Registration Number (Advance Cargo Information Declaration) must be listed in the B/L with immediate effect. With validity from April 1st,2021, a transitional phase is still to apply. From July 1st, 2021 at the latest, no B/L will be issued without an ACID Registration Number and import will no longer be possible.
Rail operator ZIH (responsible for handling the route via Zhengzhou) announces to increase rates again. After recording slight easing of rates in March, they are now back at similar levels as in December 2020. This rate increase affects all shipments with ETD from/after April 16th, 2021.
The blockade of the Suez Canal has again increased demand for rail transport on the New Silk Road. Operator Chengdu CR Express says it expects volumes to rise again. Westbound traffic to Europe is currently 150 percent fully booked due to current developments, it says (source: railfreight.com).
CURRENT SITUATION WORLDWIDE
On April 11th, 2021, an incident occurred at Hong Kong International Airport (HKG). An air cargo pallet containing VIVO smartphones caught fire immediately before being loaded on the tarmac. Hong Kong Air Cargo has stopped handling VIVO smartphones with immediate effect. Other airlines have already followed suit. This shows once again how sensitive battery shipments can be. In general, shipments of this kind should be requested as early as possible to ensure a smooth process.
The transport routes to and from China and the equipment situation in Chinese ports are also extremely affected by the consequences of the Suez Canal blockade. Experts expect that the availability of free containers will remain affected for a longer period of time. The impact on global supply chains is thus also likely to last longer (source: scmp.com).
Air cargo to Mexico remains critical. Capacity is in short supply. The "SAB" SENATOR Atlantic Bridge to Mexico City (MEX) offers a reliable option. Rates to and from Asia are still at a high level. Traffic to Brazil shows very limited capacity due to the continuing critical situation in the largest South American country. Reservations urgently need to be made early.
For ocean freight, rates also remain high. This affects all ports in Mexico equally. As a result of the Suez Canal blockade, the equipment situation in Mexico will also deteriorate further, at least temporarily.
Poor road conditions, COVID-19-related restrictions and, in some cases, chaotic planning are increasingly affecting cross-border road freight traffic in southern Africa. Therefore, unexpected delays should be factored in for all shipments continuing overland from Johannesburg or Cape Town.
On April 6th, 2021, new fuel prices came into effect in South Africa, which is accompanied by general price increases. Industry reasons for increased costs include COVID-19 compliance, delays at borders, and poor road conditions.
The situation at ports remains critical - especially on the West Coast. Los Angeles-Long Beach and Oakland in particular continue to be hard hit. With the backlog and lagging ships that had to wait due to the Suez Canal blockade and are now gradually arriving, the congestion could potentially continue until June.
Import volumes at East Coast ports have also increased recently as a result of the current situation, in part because importers have shifted traffic there from Asia. Norfolk Southern reported a 12.4% increase in intermodal traffic in March.
The U.S. domestic airline industry appears to be recovering more quickly from the COVID-19 impact than previously thought. Background: the vaccination campaign, which has been ramping up at a rapid pace, has recently given a noticeable boost to demand for domestic flights. Some airlines are therefore revising their profit forecasts upward (source: freightwaves.com).
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