Coronavirus update 31st March

Global trade is the lifeblood of the world’s economy and a critical component in the well-being of all citizens, which is why decisions by governments to contain the virus need to address the consequences of a complete halt to trade and the short- and long-term effect such decisions will have on their economies and their citizens.

It is the logistics and freight services provided by supply chain operators like Metro and our carriers that will bring the much need medical support and equipment, we so desperately need now and the goods that will aid our recovery when the pandemic subsides.

UK exporters are resilient and when they start to emerge from this situation Metro will be ready to help them accelerate their recovery, reinvigorating our air and surface freight services, helping them re-engage with their global markets.

While the first incident of COVID-19 on board a container ship has been reported, as crew members of the Gjertrud Maersk have been evacuated and hospitalised in China, with suspected coronavirus. The International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations (FIATA) has called on governments to keep ports open to allow the movement of freight to help tackle the Covid-19 crisis.

All non-essential workplaces in Spain have been closed for two weeks to try to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Air, sea and overland services continue operating for essential cargo and our team hope to be back to normal from the 14th April.

BIFA has spoken to airline sheds and airlines, UK ports and some of the main ocean carriers, who confirm that there is no Force Majeure. They will continue to charge both quay rent and demurrage, where applicable, as they believe importers will simply use the quays/sheds etc. to provide free storage.

We expect that the situation will worsen in the weeks to come, as increased volumes of cargo from China begin arriving in the UK, destined for closed importers, resulting in congestion and limited availability of empty containers for exporters.

“We would urge customers and importers to contact us now, so that we can help them avoid unnecessary charges and penalties“

In a move to counter this threat the German container shipping line Hapag-Lloyd, that is doing ‘everything in its power’ to maintain uninterrupted service, has added over 100,000 TEU of additional equipment, to keep global supply chains flowing. 

In contrast to Hapag-Lloyd’s attempt to maintain services, its container shipping peers are rushing through blanked sailings, as the Coronavrius pandemic spreads, to avoid vessels operating with inadequate volumes or revenues.

Last week there were just two blanked sailings. By yesterday the number had increased to 45, with MSC and Maersk cancelling 21% of Asia-Europe capacity in Q2.

This morning, a customer advisory from the Ocean Alliance’s CMA CGM announced a further 11 blanked sailings and we would expect THE Alliance to follow suit imminently.

The issue is not the scale of the blanked sailings, but the speed with which they are taking effect.

“Last week there were just two blanked two sailings. This week we are already at 56“

In a new development, reported in The Loadstar, Customs authorities in China are directing the unloading of all non-essential goods which have been loaded on vessels for export after the 27th March.

This suspension of exports is based on lockdowns in various countries, which may mean that the cargo will not be accepted by the customers and is expected to last for one to two months.

The global freight market is quite literally changing daily. If you have concerns about being affected by these blanked/void sailings, contact us now and we will find you alternative services.

China has significantly reduced international flights for domestic and foreign airlines, capping them at one per week. The changes took effect on Sunday.

Emirates Airlines the worlds largest international airline has grounded all passenger flights effective last Wednesday, under direct instruction of the UAE government.

Demand from China will be muted in the short-term as the virus shuts down much of the world, cutting off orders to Chinese factories just as they were returning to capacity.

With plummeting export growth in coming months inevitable, China is facing its first quarterly contraction in decades and the weakest year since 1976.

In the US a potentially major backup of loaded containers is starting to take shape, with scarcity of space at some terminals already leading to concern about diversions if ports are temporarily closed.

“Holding product at origin, extending transit and UK storage are all available options”

Some of the largest ports along the US East Coast are seeking available land to boost temporary storage capacity on or off terminal locations. 

The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are generally fluid now, but add a couple of weeks (for longer transit times from Asia) it’s likely that the situation will be similar to the East Coast.

With global lock downs growing Bangladesh’s key seaport, Chittagong, is facing heavy congestion as the government declare a 10-day general holiday between 26 March and 4 April, barring people from leaving home and halting all types of commercial activities, except emergency services.

Chittagong is continuing operations amid the virtual lockdown in an attempt to avoid vessel congestion and all regular cargo flights and special cargo flights remain in operation.

In Africa; Kenya’s has joined South Africa, Rwanda and Zimbabwe in imposing coronavirus lockdowns.

We recognise that these updates are not easy reading, but it should be borne in mind that Metro Shipping will:

  • Uplift your shipments
  • Continue to move freight globally
  • Help you to avoid rent and demurrage
  • Flex your supply chain, to optimise transit
  • Accelerate your supply chain recovery