Trucking and Marine Wrap-Up

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May 8: Federal Labour Force Survey Numbers Reflect Dim Findings of CTA’s Business Conditions Report – Canadian Trucking Alliance

Federal data is supporting the Canadian Trucking Alliance’s recent findings that, despite being an essential service, the trucking industry is far from immune to the economic shocks brought on by the COVID-19 crisis and that federal aid is required to provide much-needed relief to trucking companies.

Statistics Canada has released its Labour Force Survey for April, which quantifies the devastating blow various sectors like trucking have taken from the pandemic. StatsCan reports the transportation and warehousing sector saw a -14% year-over-year change in employment, illustrating just how severe the labour and operational challenges are for the industry, even though it’s being relied on to provide Canadians with food and essential products during the crisis.

Other sectors intimately tied to the trucking industry and supply chain also experienced severe job losses, including retail, manufacturing, natural resources, and hotel and food sectors.

May 21: BC’s Essential Freight & Passenger Services Hard Hit by COVID-19 Economy – BC Trucking Association

The BC Trucking Association (BCTA) says that results of a second COVID-19 impact survey of its members, focusing on operational challenges for April 2020, indicate that trucking and motor coach companies and the suppliers who support them in providing critical services to British Columbians are severely strained by the ongoing effect of the pandemic, including significant revenue losses and staff layoffs that continue to increase.

“Our members have been incredibly heartened by the public’s growing awareness of the essential role that our industry plays in their lives – in the comfort and care that they experience as families and communities, during ordinary and extraordinary times,” says Dave Earle, BCTA President & CEO. “But in these extraordinary times, we’re hard hit. The viability of the road transportation industry and the economy always go hand in hand.” 

May 22: Truck Driver Pro Gets Major Image Boost During COVID – Ontario Trucking Association

Truck drivers have arguably never been so admired by the public as they are now, according to a new poll by Abacus Data for Trucking HR Canada.

The market research firm reported that the essential role truck drivers have played in keeping the economy afloat during the COVID-19 crisis has helped boost the image of the industry.

The survey of 1,800 people showed that 54% of Canadians have a positive impression of trucking companies. Only 5% had a negative view.

The overall impression of the sector has risen 10% to 15% over the past few months, the poll found. Eighty-five percent said Canada needs a strong trucking sector for the economy to be healthy.

May 27: Freight Indicators Suggest the Worst Is in Trucking’s Rearview Mirror –

The worst of trucking conditions wrought by the COVID-19 pandemic may be in the rearview mirror, but the recovery could be choppy.

In its most recent Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest, ACT Research predicts the economy will transition from contraction to growth over the third and fourth quarters, as the focus shifts from saving lives, to saving livelihoods.

Industry analyst FTR reports the truck freight recovery is well into the “restart phase” but overall volumes are still well below normal levels. “The trucking market is moving up in a slow, stair-step manner,” FTR reported.

But the worst should be behind us. FTR’s Truck Freight Recovery Index, as of May 25, was at 68.7, well above the bottoming of 28.9 on April 17. Dry van loads have returned to a “normal” reading of 86.3 – up from the bottom of 42.6 on April 24. “That doesn’t mean volumes are robust, they are still below last year’s levels,” FTR reported.


May 1: Prince Rupert Plans for Second Container Terminal – Chamber of Shipping

Despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, plans remain in place for the Port of Prince Rupert to expand its existing Fairview shipping-container site and build a new $2.5-billion terminal. The Port has selected DP World PLC as the operator for the second container terminal.

May 11: FIATA Urges Attention to Container Imbalance – Inside Logistics

FIATA is urging shipping lines to review their practices in order to even out the flow of containers across global shipping lanes.

Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue of container imbalances “is reaching a tipping point, with port and terminal congestion, abandoned cargo, and container shortages. This has serious impacts on the fluidity of global maritime supply chains, at a time when the timely flow of essential goods is ever more crucial,” FIATA says in a recently published position paper.

Just as China restarted its economy and began to send export containers, the rest of the world economy went into shutdown mode, causing backlogs of import containers at ports in Europe and the Americas.

“As backhaul (export) demand increases, for example, the current high levels of blank sailings may mean there is not sufficient vessel space or container equipment for backhaul (export) containers, and as such imbalances in containers and available vessels will continue to be present.”

May 12: Significant Decreases in Port Throughput Now Over? – International Transport Journal

The International Association of Ports and Harbors and the World Ports Sustainability Program conduct weekly surveys on the impact of COVID-19 to monitor the situation and trends in world ports.

The current study shows that, compared with last week, more ports are reporting a decrease in container vessel calls. However, the share of ports facing significant decreases (in excess of a 25% drop) fell sharply from 10%-11% in the previous two weeks to less than 2% this week.

May 26: Container Lines ‘Un-blank’ a Small Number of Sailings – Seatrade Maritime News

Container lines have started to ‘un-blank’ a small number of sailings that had been cancelled in Q2 according to analysts Sea-Intelligence.

Data from the analyst showed that the number of blank sailings announced by lines had remained relatively constant for the last five weeks, and this past week had seen lines actually re-instating, or un-blanking, a small number of services. The latest move though does not yet indicate a rebound in the market as countries start coming out of COVID-19 lockdowns.

“However, it is also clearly shown by the data that this is purely a very small change to the overall development in blank sailings. It cannot be seen as a rebound in demand, nor can it be construed as ‘strong’ demand,” said SeaIntel CEO Alan Murphy.

May 28: ILO, IMO and ICAO Urge Governments to Act on Crew Change, ‘Key Worker’ Status – ITF Seafarers

The leaders of global maritime, aviation and labour authorities have issued a joint statement calling on governments to facilitate maritime crew changes and designate the millions of workers in critical transport industries through the present pandemic as ‘key workers.’

Fang Liu (International Civil Aviation Organization), Kitack Lim (International Maritime Organization) and Guy Ryder (International Labour Organization) say that the aviation and maritime transport sectors, along with the fisheries industry, are too important to global supply chains to have any disruption caused by government restrictions preventing crew change and travel.

“Our three Organizations seek to ensure that seafarers, marine personnel, fishing vessel personnel, offshore energy sector personnel, aviation personnel, air cargo supply chain personnel, service provider personnel at airports and ports are designated as ‘key workers’, regardless of nationality, to exempt them from travel restrictions, to ensure their access to emergency medical treatment and, if necessary, to facilitate emergency repatriation,” said the leaders.

The international bodies also urged governments to remove restrictions stopping crew from disembarking from ships in port. Currently, many transport workers cannot transit through a territory to an airport or other transport hub for a crew change and repatriation home. They say repatriation flights must be sped up.

May 28: Port of Montreal Projects Are Resuming – Port of Montreal

Port optimization development projects have resumed at the Port of Montreal since the reopening of construction sites in mid-May. Adopting all the health and safety measures necessary under the circumstances, project management teams and contractors are back at work on the main construction sites launched by the Montreal Port Authority (MPA), including: the redevelopment of Bickerdike Terminal, completion of Viau Terminal, the rehabilitation of docks 25 and 27, and the construction of the Port of Montreal’s Grand Quay tower.

All of these projects will make it possible not only to be ready to accommodate the growth in diversified traffic at the Port of Montreal in the mid and long term, but also to contribute to the economic recovery through major investments in port infrastructures that are happening now.

May 29: Minister Garneau Announces Updated Measures for Cruise Ships and Passenger Vessels in Canadian Waters up to October 31, 2020 – Transport Canada

The Government of Canada continues to monitor the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic and the impacts it is having on the marine and tourism sectors. Keeping Canadians and transportation workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic is Transport Canada’s top priority.

The Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, announced updated measures pertaining to cruise ships and passenger vessels in Canadian waters.

  • Cruise ships with overnight accommodations allowed to carry more than 100 persons are prohibited from operating in Canadian waters until October 31, 2020.
  • As of July 1, 2020, all other passenger vessels must follow provincial, territorial, local and regional health authority requirements for timelines and processes to resume operations.