Month in Review – April 2021

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April 12: Survey Shows Impact of Semiconductor Shortage on Fleets – Transport Topics

The ongoing shortage of semiconductors and scant availability of other parts and supplies are causing delays for trucking fleets, a recent survey found.

According to a survey of fleet representatives conducted by the Technology & Maintenance Council of American Trucking Associations, 73% of respondents have experienced delays in taking delivery of new vehicles due to the semiconductor shortage. For 63% of those instances, the lag time amounted to 60 or more days. The shortage is affecting light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicle classes, TMC found.

More than 43% of respondents said the shortage is impacting maintenance and repair, while 53% reported average downtime-related delays stretching to more than two weeks.

April 19: Truck-Parts Shortage Intensifies, Extending to ‘Common Parts’ – Today’s Trucking

Fleet maintenance teams are struggling to source many of the truck parts they need as suppliers face shortages of commodities from microchips to rubber.

“It’s really starting to dribble down into common parts,” said Darry Stuart of DWS Fleet Management.

The situation requires some creative sourcing strategies when it comes to maintenance supplies.

April 21: Canada’s Spot Market Load Volumes Neared Three-Year High in March – Today’s Trucking

Canadian spot market load volumes neared a three-year high in March, reaching levels not seen since June 2018 and completing a quarter that bettered Q4 and Q1 of 2020.

Loadlink Technologies reported loads in its system in March were up 33% from February and 13% year-over-year. It credits the surge with the easing of lockdown restrictions in certain regions coupled with seasonal growth in load activity. It was the second strongest March in Loadlink history.


Port of Montreal

  • April 10: Citing a drop in cargo volume of 11% caused by uncertainty related to the labour relations situation, the Maritime Employers Association (MEA) gave 72 hours’ notice to the union of its intention to remove the income guarantee for longshoremen. The union responded with 72-hour notice that members would do no training or overtime as of April 13, and no weekend work starting on April 17.
  • April 22: The MEA said it would move the longshoremen to “regular schedules” to help counteract the negative effects of the union’s partial strike.
  • April 23: The union gave 72-hour notice to the MEA that, as of April 26 at 7:00 am, the union would start a general strike.
  • April 25: The Government of Canada issued a Notice Paper indicating that it would introduce a bill, entitled “An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of operations at the Port of Montreal.” The notice identified a process that would avoid some of the usual legislative steps to ensure a quick response to the labour situation.
  • April 27: Federal Labour Minister Filomena Tassi tabled back-to-work legislation.
  • April 29: The House of Commons passed Bill C-29 in the early hours.
  • April 30: The Senate passed the bill, forcing employees back to work. The union said it will contest the bill before the courts.
  • As well as ending the work stoppage, the legislation calls on the two parties to resolve their issues and establish a new collective agreement.

April 1: Lengthy Wait for Cargo as Ever Given Owner Declares General Average – The Loadstar

As the investigation into the grounding of the Ever Given in the Suez Canal begins, the vessel’s Japanese owner, Shoei Kisen, on April 1 declared general average.

While there is no reported damage to the cargo, and that to the vessel appears to be minimal, the cost of the salvage operation, which ultimately required 11 tugs and two dredgers, as well as possible compensation claims from a variety of interests such as the Suez Canal Authority or shipping companies caught up in the backlog, could amount to a sizeable bill.

April 2: Demand Boom on Collision Course with Ocean Transport Ceiling – American Shipper

U.S. containerized imports show no sign of letting up as the second quarter begins. On the contrary: Consumer demand is strengthening in the wake of fiscal stimulus and falling inventories that necessitate even more restocking.

The biggest risk to Q2 container-shipping volume is not demand for goods, it’s transport supply.

Fallout from the Suez Canal accident will constrain vessel and container-equipment availability, leading to longer delays. By the end of this quarter, shoppers in America’s stores could find more bare shelves. Online shoppers could increasingly see the words “out of stock.”

April 9: Ripples from Suez Ending in Waves of Price Rises on All Container Tradelanes – The Loadstar

On the transpacific tradelane, the Freightos Baltic Exchange (FBX) reading for Asia to the U.S. west coast increased 4% this week, to $5,375 per 40ft, while for the east coast, the FBX was up 2%, to $5,868 per 40ft.

Transpacific BCOs are in the final stages of contract negotiations with carriers, which, according to reports, are “not negotiations at all but demands by the shipping lines.”

And, according to Jon Monroe, of Washington state-based Jon Monroe Consulting, some carriers are reducing the minimum quantity commitment for BCO annual contracts in order to allocate more space for premium-rated business.

April 15: Supply Chains Brace for Container Issues, Blank Sailings as Ships Cleared from Suez Arrive at Ports – Supply Chain Dive

Ships that were held up by the blockage of the Suez Canal began arriving at ports this week, with more set to arrive over the coming week.

Analysis by project44 found that Singapore and Rotterdam could see the biggest impact. Ships with 370,000 TEU are headed to Singapore, where 83 ships are already at port or at anchor. And vessels with 196,600 TEU of capacity are headed to Rotterdam, where 85 ships are at port or at anchor.

April 16: Shipping Rates Rocketing Again, with Contract Talks ‘a Game of Musical Chairs’ – The Loadstar

Container spot rates are beginning to head upwards again across all trades from already elevated levels, as carriers reduce their commitment to contract volumes in favour of much higher FAK rates.

The FBX China-North Europe component is up a phenomenal 430% on the same time last year, at a time in the supply chain cycle when rates are generally under slack season pressure before a peak season recovery in July.

One UK-based NVOCC said this week his carrier had not only doubled his contract rate from Asia, but had also cut his minimum quantity commitment by 75%. “We now have only a quarter of our business covered by the new contract and the rest will be at the mercy of the line’s FAK rates and all manner of surcharges,” he said.

The forwarder also works for clients with a sizeable U.S. market and complained that rates on the transatlantic were now “out of control.”

April 29: Crewing Crisis Looms as Vaccine Rollout Stalls – Splash

A resolution for a global seafarers vaccination program proposed by the Cyprus shipping deputy ministry (SDM) has been officially adopted by the International Labour Organization (ILO). The resolution calls for a mapping exercise to identify the number of vaccines required for seafarers ashore at seafarer supplying countries.

Nevertheless, the slow rollout of a global vaccination program for seafarers is proving troublesome for the shipping industry, with some shipowners, operators and charterers now saying they will only take crew who have had both shots of their COVID vaccine.


April 12: Rising Jet Fuel Price Puts Extra Pressure on Airfreight Sector – American Shipper

The rising price of jet fuel this year is further burdening companies with airfreight shipments and could reduce limited capacity if passenger airlines opt to scuttle cargo-only flights temporarily operated since the start of the pandemic, industry officials say.

The average price for jet fuel closed Friday at $66.90 per barrel or $1.59 per gallon, more than double the cost (70 cents a gallon) to refuel an aircraft 12 months ago and nearly as expensive as before the global crisis, according to energy information provider Platts.

Airline industry officials say higher prices for fuel, which accounts for about a quarter of operating costs, will make it more difficult for airlines to return to cash-positive operations. The industry lost $118.5 billion last year and sharply reduced flight operations to slow the run on cash as customers avoided travel because of health concerns. International traffic remains almost 90% below pre-pandemic levels, and airlines borrowed heavily to remain in business.

April 26: Airlines Brace for a ‘Longer and Deeper’ Crisis in 2021 – American Journal of Transportation

IATA, the International Air Travel Association, has warned that 2021 will mean global losses of $47.7 billion for airlines, a slightly worse outlook than their December forecast.

With air traffic still at a fraction of pre COVID levels, “This crisis is longer and deeper than anyone could have expected,” commented Willie Walsh, IATA’s Director General.

January and February figures were down 86.6 percent on 2019 levels.


April 20: CN Makes Nearly $34-Billion Bid for Kansas City Southern – FreightWaves

Canadian railway CN has offered to acquire Kansas City Southern in a cash-and-stock transaction worth $33.7 billion.

Canadian Pacific last month announced plans to acquire Kansas City Southern for $29 billion.

CIFFA Advocacy, Communications, Activities

April 12: CIFFA Statement to PM Expresses Alarm Concerning Deteriorating Situation in Labour Relations at Port of Montreal

CIFFA sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, urging the government to take steps to ensure the threatening dispute at the Port of Montreal does not hit the Canadian economy.

April 14: Jamie Wiltse Recipient of CIFFA’s 2021 Donna Letterio Leadership Award

CIFFA named Jamie Wiltse, District Manager of the Alberta and Saskatchewan Region at Expeditors Canada Inc., winner of the 2021 Donna Letterio Leadership Award.

April 22: Economic Recovery Imperilled by Port Labour Dispute

CIFFA issued a press release about the labour situation at the Port of Montreal. It read in part:

“In the same week the federal government committed tens of billions to stimulate the economy, a labour dispute in one of Canada’s most critical transportation hubs is acting to supress economic growth,” says Bruce Rodgers, Executive Director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association.

The businesses and citizens of Montreal and Quebec have become pawns in a destructive game played by the parties in the Port of Montreal’s ongoing labour dispute, says the Executive Director of the Canadian International Freight Forwarders Association.

An orchestrated slowdown over the last two weeks has led to a growing backlog at the Port.

April 22: CIFFA Provides Summary of IATA Webinar

IATA hosted a webinar on April 21, which CIFFA summarized for members. Key Learnings from the Ongoing Vaccine Distribution Effort and Paving the Way for the Future.

April 28: CIFFA Writes to Minister of Labour Regarding Back to Work Legislation at Port of Montreal

CIFFA wrote to the Honourable Filomena Tassi, Canada’s Minister of Labour, to express appreciation for her “prompt action to address the work stoppage in the Port of Montreal.”