Modal Update Trucking, Marine, Air, Rail

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January 1: Bouncing Back: Trucking Optimistic Heading into 2021 – Inside Logistics

Few sectors of the economy bounced back from the economic crash caused by Covid-19 faster than trucking. And if new equipment orders are any indication, truckers are expecting the market to remain strong well into 2021.

Trailer orders from U.S. and Canadian fleets reached their lowest point in the modern era in April, at just 300 units, according to data from industry analyst FTR. However, they shot up to 54,200 units in October, marking the third-best month ever, according to ACT Research. Trailer orders are seen as a leading indicator of trucking market conditions.

“Increases in both freight volumes and rates, along with capacity challenges, have influenced fleets to aggressively enter the market,” said Frank Maly, director of commercial vehicle transportation analysis with ACT Research.

January 21: Last-Mile Emissions Set to Climb by 30 Percent – Inside Logistics

Urban last-mile delivery emissions are on track to increase by over 30 percent by 2030 in the top 100 cities globally.

Without intervention, these emissions could reach 25 million tons of CO2 emitted annually by that date. Along with increased carbon emissions, traffic congestion is expected to rise by over 21 percent.

New research, The Future of the Last-Mile Ecosystem by the World Economic Forum, suggests that growing demand for e-commerce delivery will result in 36 percent more delivery vehicles in inner cities by 2030, leading to a rise in both emissions and traffic congestion. However, effective interventions do exist.

January 21: ‘Urgent Action’ Needed to Hit Net-Zero Truck Emissions by 2050, Report Says –

Shell and Deloitte see a path for the world’s trucks and buses to produce net-zero emissions by 2050, but identify “urgent action” that needs to be taken to reach the goal.

Decarbonising Road Freight: Getting into Gear highlights 22 solutions for the next decade that would help address underlying economic, technical, regulatory and organizational factors behind decarbonization.

“Once produced at scale, hydrogen will likely be the most cost-effective and viable pathway to net-zero emissions for heavy-duty and long-route medium-duty vehicles, and electric mobility will do the same for light-duty and short-route medium-duty vehicles,” said Carlos Maurer, Shell’s executive vice-president of sectors and decarbonization.


January 5: Shippers and Forwarders Claim Carriers Breach Contracts to Demand Higher Rates – The Loadstar

As Asia-Europe container spot rates continue to skyrocket, shippers and freight forwarders are accusing carriers of breaching short- and long-term contracts to “charge whatever they want.”

In a joint letter to the Competition Directorate of the European Commission (EC), the European Freight Forwarders Association (CLECAT) and European Shippers’ Council (ESC) have protested about the “damage” the carriers’ behaviour is “causing to trade growth at a time of economic recession.”

According to the letter, the complaints relate to “violation of existing contracts, the establishment of unreasonable conditions concerning the acceptance of bookings and unilaterally setting rates far in excess of those agreed in contracts.”

January 6: ‘Slidings’, Port Omissions and Short-Notice Network Changes Replace Blanking – The Loadstar

Scheduling ‘slidings’, ad hoc port omissions and short-notice network structural changes are replacing blankings as the new challenges for shippers in 2021.

January 7: China to Tighten Inspection on Box Shipping Carriers’ Pricing Practices – Lloyd’s Loading List

China’s Ministry of Transport has defended carriers’ reasoning when responding to a shipper’s complaint about skyrocketing container shipping costs, but has said it will tighten its scrutiny on carriers’ pricing practices.

The move followed a September meeting held by the Chinese regulator and participated in by a slew of container lines, which had attempted to curb freight rates. This effort largely failed amid a pandemic-disrupted market.

January 8: Boxship Space in Asia Now Going, Going, Gone – to the Highest Bidder – gCaptain

Major forwarders are engaged in fierce bidding wars in China, in order to secure equipment and space to North Europe.

And several carriers are reported to have opened first- and second-round tenders with the highest bidders for guaranteed shipment this month.

According to Chinese forwarder contacts, carriers are inviting offers for available slots on end-January sailings from Shanghai, Ningbo, Qingdao and Yantian.

January 15: More Crew Change Complications Emerge as Virus Mutates – Splash

Crew changes are once more becoming difficult as much of the world locks down again following the emergence of several new and more transmissible variants of COVID-19, crew specialist Danica has warned.

With travel corridors being closed and new travel restrictions imposed, airlines are once again cancelling or reducing flights, which poses a problem for crew transiting to vessels. Ports too, if they have reopened, are imposing greater restrictions.

January 18: The Bull Run Is Wreaking Havoc, with Cargo Delays in Major Ports – American Journal of Transportation

Ocean Insights’ cargo delay statistics show how the bull run is wreaking havoc on the market, with surging rollover rates across major ports during December and most major carriers seeing increases in delays.

Triggered by a 30% collapse in demand for container shipments in Europe and the U.S. at the outset of the pandemic, a subsequent 30% increase in demand has created unprecedented negative market conditions. Data released yesterday by Ocean Insights highlights just how extensive delays have been, which ports and carriers are experiencing under capacity and a timeline of market volatility.

As the COVID-19 pandemic threw global markets into disarray, consumer behaviour changed dramatically, leaving the carriers as well as shippers stranded, either with goods they could not sell or, in the second half of the year, with goods that cannot be moved.

The latter crisis stems in part from a lack of containers, as the pandemic has caused box repositioning problems. Today, even if a beneficial cargo owner (BCO) can get an empty container for their cargo, there is no guarantee that the cargo will make it onto a ship.

January 20: Breakbulk Revival as Box Shipping Prices Itself Out of the Market – The Loadstar

Container shipping’s capacity crunch has priced some agricultural and chemical commodities out of the market – in favour of breakbulk.

And the decontainerization trend could spread to other cargo categories, according to Estonia-based freight forwarder CF&S.

The company recently loaded 700 tons of fertilizers, feed and chemicals from Xingang to Hamburg in big bags on a multipurpose vessel.

“Due to the huge rise in prices for container sea freight from China to Europe, and the lack of container equipment, we recently tried an alternative,” explained Andrej Katrecko, CEO of CF&S Lithuania.

“Going bulk was two-and-a-half times cheaper than current prices for containerized cargo.”

January 26: Over 300 Companies Sign ‘Neptune Declaration’ to Ease Crew Change Crisis – MarineLink

Over 300 leading companies said on Tuesday they would work together to help hundreds of thousands of merchant sailors stuck on ships for many months due to COVID-19 in a crisis that risks creating more dangers at sea.

The companies, which include shipping groups such as A.P. Moller Maersk, miners Anglo American and Rio Tinto, oil majors BP and Royal Dutch Shell as well as trading companies Cargill, Trafigura and Vitol, will boost information sharing as signatories of the “Neptune Declaration” initiative.

January 28: Box Port Delays Causing Service Cancellations – Lloyd’s Loading List

Major global container lines are being forced to cancel significant numbers of east-west services due to exceptionally long delays to vessels caused by congestion in Asian and North American ports.

Reflecting the reality faced by box lines around the world, Hapag-Lloyd told customers this week that it was being forced to implement “a comprehensive schedule recovery plan to get vessels back in their intended positions.” The German line said this “will result in some services not having a sailing for one to two weeks,” although the carrier stressed that this was in no way an indication that it was wanting to reduce capacity.


January 13: Air Canada Suspends Routes as COVID Restrictions Bite Travel – American Shipper

Air Canada is reducing passenger system capacity by 25% and laying off 1,700 workers in the first quarter due to new Canadian travel restrictions aimed at curbing the resurgence of COVID-19, the company said Wednesday.

More than 200 employees in the airline’s regional express division are also being furloughed. Air Canada said it is working with unions to mitigate the impact on employees. The company released 20,000 workers in May.

The first-quarter reduction in flights will put capacity at about 20% of what it was during the same period in 2019.

Any reduction in flights, especially large jets used on international routes, is a blow to cargo shippers because lower-deck space is already severely squeezed by industry cutbacks.

January 15: Ocean Freight Issues Adding to Squeeze on Air Cargo Capacity – Lloyd’s Loading List

A critical lack of ocean containers and capacity for ex-China exports, together with vessel schedule disruption, are continuing to drive a modal shift to air that is adding to a squeeze on air freight capacity already stretched by buoyant demand generated by COVID vaccine transport, PPE and the B2C e-commerce boom, according to a leading air charter broker.

“Currently, we are seeing that the problems in ocean freight are putting a lot of pressure on air capacity,” Air Partner’s Singapore-based director for freight and VP for Asia Pacific, Mike Hill, said.

“Air freight rates dropped a little after Christmas but remain very high compared to market behaviour in previous years.”

January 15: Canadian Airlines Invest in More Freighter Capacity as Demand for Space Rises – The Loadstar

Canada is upping its freighter capacity, with both Cargojet and Air Canada expanding to take advantage of new opportunities.

Cargojet announced last week it had raised $350 million to help it acquire five 767 and two 777 freighters for delivery from this year into 2023.

It will also invest in a new hangar and additional land-based infrastructure and pay off debt, it said.

Meanwhile Air Canada, which has long toyed with the possibility of having its own freighter fleet, has taken the plunge.

January 22: Plans for Tighter COVID Restrictions in Hong Kong Threaten Airfreight – The Loadstar

One of the most important global airfreight gateways is facing the spectre of tighter measures that could have a profound impact on cargo capacity.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong government is looking to implement measures this week that include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for airline crews.

This would apply to those on passenger and freighter aircraft returning to the territory after an international layover – so far they have been exempt from quarantine requirements.

January 27: Transport Canada Update: All-Cargo and Mail Security Requirements – Transport Canada bulletin

Enhancements to the Transport Canada Air Cargo Security Program will come into force on February 1, 2021. These enhancements will require that only secure cargo and mail be transported on both passenger and all-cargo international and transborder flights.

Cargo is deemed as secure if it has been screened by either an air carrier or a program participant who is approved by the Air Cargo Security Program.

To provide industry with sufficient lead time, air carriers operating all-cargo international and transborder flights will have until June 30, 2021, to become fully compliant with the new regulatory requirements. Transport Canada appreciates that these regulatory enhancements may raise concerns.

January 27: Air Carriers Quick to Return Cargo Capacity to the Market after Christmas –Air Cargo News

Air cargo capacity quickly recovered to pre-Christmas levels after a temporary dip over the break, according to the latest figures from Accenture’s Seabury Consulting.

The latest Seabury figures show that capacity across express carriers, freighter carriers and bellyhold operations dipped in the last week of the year, but made a quick recovery.

“With demand still strong, the end-of-year traditional capacity drop in 2020 was less pronounced than it was at the end of 2019, with airline/express freighters operating 30% more capacity than last year,” Seabury said.

From December 28 to January 10, freighter capacity was up 33% year on year, express capacity gained 27% and bellyspace was down 61%.


January 1: CP: Tariff 3 Implemented to ‘Encourage Fluid Railway Operation’ – CP website

CP implemented Tariff 3 on January 1 to help smooth out container retrieval across the country.

Per the CP website, “Tariff 3 is in place to encourage safe and fluid railway operation and includes International, Domestic and Cross Border Intermodal.

“Tariff 3 is generic, with each price grouped and simplified into the impact to safety, fluidity, and other admin work or service not included in CP’s Guide to Products and Services (Tariff 1). These can be combined to cover any situation that may arise, and the guide to combinations at the back of the tariff will help you identify how.

“The most effective way to avoid asset use fees is to make sure containers are loaded or unloaded and released within the time provided. CP encourages all customers to be as efficient as possible, and would prefer to have containers loaded or unloaded in the shortest time possible.”

January 21: Government of Canada Approves Milton Logistics Hub Project – Government of Canada press release

The Government of Canada oversees rigorous environmental assessments to ensure good projects that support economic growth and environmental protection get built.

After a thorough review based on the best available science and evidence, and extensive public engagement, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, announced on January 21 the Government of Canada’s decision to approve the Milton Logistics Hub Project, subject to 325 conditions.

The Milton Logistics Hub, proposed by the Canadian National Railway Company, is expected to reduce overall regional emissions for certain pollutants, including greenhouse gas emissions, by transitioning from trucks to lower-emitting train shipment. The project is also anticipated to contribute to a resilient economic recovery from COVID-19 by strengthening Canada’s supply chains, attracting investment, and boosting Canada’s trade potential by addressing bottlenecks in important corridors.

January 25: CN Ranked 10th on World’s 100 Most Sustainable Corporations by Corporate Knights – CN press release

CN ranked 10th on the Corporate Knights 2021 Global 100 Index of the most sustainable corporations in the world, earning a place among corporations delivering superior financial performance and leading the race to a zero emissions economy. CN is the only railway company included on the list this year.

To determine the ranking, Corporate Knights analyzed companies against global industry peers on a suite of up to 24 quantitative key performance indicators covering resource management, employee management, financial management, clean revenue and investments and supplier performance.

CN’s approach to sustainability aligns with international standards, including the United Nations Global Compact, the Global Reporting Initiative, the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the World Bank Mobility Goals and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure. For more information, go to CN’s Delivering Responsibly website.