Coronavirus COVID-19 | September Updates

September 16, 2020

Read the latest on Operations and Carrier updates. For questions, comments or assistance please contact us.

We understand there have been many impacts this year on the air, ocean, and ground freight markets. At Crane Worldwide Logistics, we strive to provide our clients with the best service and communicate the most current information impacting the market. Find below updates for September 2020. To see our previous updates, please visit our Coronavirus COVID-19 Resource Center on our website.

We have warehouse space available, ground transportation options globally, and are continuing to book air charters and fill space on ocean carriers.

Week 38 (September 14 - 20)

Ocean Port Operations Status

  • Seattle: Fri 9/18 – T18 and T30 all day closed.
  • Los Angeles/Long Beach: 
    • Thu 9/17 – Everport 2nd shift closed
    • Fri 9/18 – Everport, LBCT Pier E, WBCT, YTI 2nd shift closed.
    • Over 20% increase in volumes at the port versus 2019 has resulted in congestion at the port and rail; up to 10 days of delay at the port during this peak season.
  • Virginia: Portsmouth Marine Terminal will be closed starting May 04, 2020. Cargo volumes will be consolidated to other terminals.
  • New York: Up to 10 days delay due to increased volume from larger vessels and re-routed cargo due to the Port of Montreal strike.

Commercial Air Operations Update

IATA released an information page listing the status of airlines globally, which is free for all to access. Visit the page here

Charter Operations and Aircraft Availability

What charters do Crane Worldwide Logistics have available?

  • Capacity is available for charters globally, contact us for current rates and availability. 
  • We have seen opportunities for part charters (20 tons and up) recently, but not seen regularly.  
  • If you have an opportunity, send us the details, and we can work on current, part charter capacity, and pricing. Charter prices are based on current availability, and that could change rapidly. Size and rates have been fluctuating a lot over the past few days.
  • Crane Worldwide must have a signed charter authorization from our client before we can sign the charter contract with the provider.  Make sure you have someone standing by to sign agreements, capacity, and rates change quickly.
  • On all charters, funds must be received from our client before wheels up.

Air Freight Update

IATA - unveils online platform to ease Covid vaccine supply chain challenges In preparation for global vaccine delivery, IATA has launched ONE Source, an online platform to match shipping needs with infrastructure capabilities and service providers. The platform, which will independently verify information, will list the latest operational information on airlines, airports, handling facilities, forwarders, shippers and truckers and take into account security and risk analysis data. The API platform will be free for all service providers. “ONE Source will give complete visibility of the capabilities and facilities across the supply chain,” said Glyn Hughes, head of IATA Cargo. He pointed out the enormity of the vaccine challenge, which, with just a single dose vaccine for 7.8bn people, would amount to 8,000 747 flights. But while much of the focus so far has been on available airline capacity, Mr. Hughes said facilities also had to be in place. “Once a vaccine has been produced, it will need to be manufactured around the world and distributed safely. There will need to be a focus on Africa, Asia and Latin America, where there are few facilities to manufacture.” Among the numerous challenges were border processes, flight permits and trained, adequate staff numbers at import and export locations, he explained.“To maintain supply chain integrity and temperature control, from the manufacturing site for the entire journey, will require all parties to work together,” he said.IATA is already “working across many fronts”, he said, including with the World Food Programme and other UN agencies, pharmaceutical manufacturers, airlines and handlers.“The biggest challenge will be the final mile, and that’s where the greatest focus is. We already have well-established procedures in the industry, but we will need to scale up – and they don’t cover everywhere. “In Africa for example, there are few passenger services and no real methods of distribution – it’s too large, with too many borders, and you can’t use road or ocean. It will need planning with military precision. One way would be to set up cool facilities at staging points throughout the continent.

Asiana - South Korea plans to inject $2 billion (2.4 trillion won) to Asiana Airlines after the carrier’s acquisition deal between its parent company Kumho Industrial and Hyundai Development Company (HDC) failed on September 11, 2020. The joint investment of 2$ billion will come from the Korea Development Bank (KDB) and another state-owned lender Export-Import Bank of Korea. The two companies would most likely become Asiana’s biggest shareholders after the injection. Initially, HDC and Mirae Asset Daewoo agreed with Kumho Industrial to acquire a stake in Asiana Airlines for $2.1 billion (2.5 trillion won) in December 2020. The deal reportedly collapsed after Hyundai Development called for renegotiations due to Asiana’s surging debt over the impact of COVID-19. Reportedly, Asiana lost $225 million (268 billion won) in the first half of 2020. But even before, the airline was not a profitable project to begin with as it finished 2019 with a $660 million (785 trillion won) in net losses. As of June 2020, the carrier has surmounted a total debt of 12.8 trillion won ($10.8 billion), a 33% increase from the previous year.

Cathay Pacific - announced on Friday that it will no longer apply for employment subsidies from the government for its main business. The move implies that the airline can further make redundancies at its companies. Yet, Cathay (0293) Pacific has filed applications for some of its subsidiaries, such as Hong Kong Express, Hong Kong Airlines, Cargo Terminal, Hong Kong Airport Services, and Cathay (0293) Pacific Catering Services. The financial support protects jobs for the September-November period. Cathay (0293) Pacific has so far received US$5 billion in relief support from the Hong Kong government and has thus avoided major layoffs. Still, the group has warned that it is reviewing all aspects of its business model and expects to see the results in Q4. Cathay (0293) Pacific, which had about 27,000 staff worldwide at the end of last year, has cut about 400 overseas crew members and offered voluntary redundancies. The airline's general manager said the airline will inevitably adjust its fleet to cope with a shrinking travel market. Earlier in July, the airline group had the plan to park one-third of its fleet in Alice Spring, Australia. And according to the South China Morning Post, it is now considering to revise the number and store even more aircraft.

Singapore Airlines - Staff cuts continue to plague the airline sector after Singapore Airlines’ (SIA) announcement to lay off 4,300 employees, 20% of its workforce. SIA took this decision in light of the uncertainty that currently looms over the aviation industry, impeded by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis’s effects, the airline group’s statement read on September 10, 2020.However, the effects of layoffs that are set to affect Singapore Airlines, SilkAir and Scoot, have reportedly been mitigated by retirement schemes and voluntary leaves. The Group said that these measures allowed it to eliminate 1,900 job positions throughout the company’s COVID-19 period. This means that 2,400 employees will end up losing their jobs involuntarily within the Group’s global operations. The Group reportedly expects to continue its services under 50% of passenger capacity until the end of FY2020. SIA further quotes 2024 as the most likely year when the company could expect the return to previous traffic level - a prediction in line with authorities such as IATA and ACI. The airline group expects domestic markets to be the first to improve, a phenomenon that was already recorded in China. However, the airline group commented that as it “does not have a domestic market that will be the first to see a recovery,” SIA is left in a vulnerable position.

Lufthansa - plans to scrap most of its widebody passenger aircraft, which would contribute to additional redundancies on top of the previously announced 22,000 layoffs. According to Bloomberg’s sources, Lufthansa is currently looking at withdrawing its remaining 14 Airbus A380 after already retiring the same amount in August 2020. In addition to the 14 superjumbos, most of the airline’s A340s would also go, alongside Lufthansa’s entire Boeing 747-400 fleet and a portion of the carrier’s narrow-body planes that conduct long-haul operations. On August 6, 2020, Lufthansa disclosed that it would decommission five Boeing 747-400s and eleven Airbus A320s on top of its halved A380 fleet. In total, the carrier planned to shrink its fleet by a total of 100 aircraft by 2023. The additional cuts would push Lufthansa over that mark, also affecting additional jobs on top of the Group’s announced 22,000. In Q2 2020, the carrier revealed a €1.7 billion ($2 billion) net financial loss as its revenue dropped by 80% compared to the previous year. The airline also received a €9 billion ($10.7 billion) injection from Germany’s government to boost its liquidity. Read more: Lufthansa Group to cut 25% of workforce, 14 A380s to follow at the same time, the company has expected a rapid recovery to 95% of short- and medium-haul and 70% of its long-haul operations by the end of 2020. However, Lufthansa’s dreams were shattered by a recent resurgence of new COVID-19 cases in Europe and a slower-than-expected traffic return across the aviation industry.

Ground Transportation Operations

  • This week is national trucker week in the United States – thank a trucker!

Global Border Crossing Status and restrictions

  • Facilitated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe read more here

Land Borders

  • Sixfold have a free application that maps out European borders with live information on crossing times read more here

Week 37 (September 07 - 13)

Ocean Operations

Maersk announces a more integrated company to serve customers better

On September 01, 2020 Maersk communicated brand specific Customer Advisories related to the strategic integration of Safmarine and Damco into Maersk. These changes are aligned with their goal of becoming the global integrator of container logistics, connecting and simplifying our customers’ supply chains.

  • The changes in Safmarine and Damco are designed to:
    • Strengthen customers supply chains by removing handoffs.
    • Improve our customer experience by simplifying multiple connections points across our organization.
    • Leverage the geographical scale, trust and performance of Maersk’s Ocean product.
    • Expand our Logistics and Services products to create more efficiency of use and competitive advantage for you.
  • As their Safmarine North America Customer Service team is already based in The Woodlands, Texas office – in the same office as the Maersk Customer Service team, the transition is expected to be smooth.
  • Safmarine’s success as an African regional line has been strong and consistent through the years. The company already makes heavy use of the Maersk Ocean network - so it was a natural fit to integrate it into the Maersk brand to achieve an easier customer interface from booking, pricing, customer service and liner network aspects.
  • The Safmarine team and its passion for customers will be infused into the Maersk brand starting October 1, 2020 and the brand will be discontinued by the end of the year.

Damco

  • Effective 1 October, Damco will be combined with Maersk’s Logistics and Services products to complement its end-to-end offering to customers.
  • Air freight: All air freight contracts remain intact and our goal is to grow our air freight business further to strengthen our customers’ air freight performance.
  • LCL: We want to grow this business through existing Maersk channels and will integrate LCL into our Logistics and Services suite of products.
  • NVOCC: Since they will be using our own assets to offer unique value propositions, they will not pursue the Ocean Full container load (FCL) multi-carrier NVOCC product as a general offering. Where possible, current NVOCC customers will be offered Maersk.com or Twill.
  • The Damco brand will be discontinued and transition to the Maersk brand by the end of the year.
  • We will ensure any contractual agreements today with our DAMCO customers are met, so rest assured your current business with DAMCO will continue per your individual contract.

What is not changing as part of our announcement today:

  • Sealand – a Maersk Company: There are no changes to Sealand – a Maersk Company organization and its service to customers.
  • Brokerage: Maersk Customs House Brokerage, Vandegrift- A Maersk Company and the KGH Brokerage acquisition.
  • W&D: Maersk Warehousing & Distribution and Performance Team.
  • Trucking: Hudd Transportation and Performance Team Transportation.
  • Terminals: APM Terminals.
  • Hamburg Sud: Is expected to introduce some changes on October 01, 2020.

IPI Service Delays LAX / NYC – LCL

Due to the continued impacts of Covid-19, we are experiencing equipment and capacity shortages that are contributing to IPI delays nationwide. This is being felt especially in our Los Angeles and New York gateways. Delays in transit time are possible and expectations are for these to continue into the 3rd Quarter of 2020 and possibly beyond.

TPEB Update

  1. There are some new Blank sailings that were introduced by Maersk/MSC (2m VSA member) that not only impacts overall space allocation within their VSA but does push business to the other 2 VSA’s.
    • Service strings impacted are the TP1, TP3, TP10 in weeks 41, 43, and 45 associated with the Golden Week China holiday.
    • The TP1 and TP3 are Asia to USWC services while the TP10 is an Asia to USEC service. 
  2. The good news is that the majority of blank sailings that were announced prior have been withdrawn.
  3. It remains critical that communication channels remain open and active as it pertains to space allocation. The ocean carriers are really using the demand plan in place and 6 weeks of most recent history to determine if changes to demand plan will be requested due to the tight space in the Transpacific Eastbound trade. We encourage all to ensure they invest time to discuss space allocation with their service providers at least every 6 weeks to evaluate the plan that was put in place at the very beginning of executing the business plan to discuss changes to their business.
  4. The SCFI index dramatically increased ex China base ports from August 28th to September 4th to reflect an average USWC base port rate increasing $119 or $3758/40’ and $330 or $4538/40’ for USEC base port rate via Panama canal.

Air Freight Update

Amazon Air - A Boeing 767-300 (registered N503AZ) appeared in the Federal Aviation Administration’s registry under Amazon’s name on August 31, 2020.  After operating leased wide-bodies for almost five years now, the e-commerce giant finally owns an aircraft of its own. A 29-year-old Boeing 767-338(ER) officially became the first jet in Amazon’s fleet. The N503AZ, then-named the City of Port Macquarie, was first delivered to Qantas back in 1991. Eleven years later, the Australian flag carrier leased the aircraft to Australian Airlines for four years, after which the aircraft returned to its owner and was stored away in 2014. Westjet was the last airline that operated the N503AZ before Amazon bought it. The aircraft currently resides in Tel Aviv, Israel, where it will likely be converted into an Amazon Air freighter. On top of its new aircraft, the company has also reserved four additional registration numbers 521AZ, 563AZ, 569AZ and 571AZ, most likely looking to expand its fleet further. The aircraft registrations came in the wake of Q2 financial results after the company announced $5.2 billion in net income, a 50% increase from the same quarter of 2019. Its sales have reportedly ramped by 40% in comparison to last year as well. And while many businesses were impacted negatively by COVID-19, Amazon’s demand keeps growing due to social distancing and restrictions that people are forced to undergo amid the crisis. At the same time, many airlines have reported increased revenues from their air freight operations due to the peculiar situation cargo found itself in after the pandemic. E-commerce companies transported much of their shipments before COVID-19 in ‘belly capacity’ via passenger planes. When air traffic dropped by 90% in April 2020, prices for air freight increased significantly.

Alitalia - A new Alitalia (AZ, Rome Fiumicino) could be launched in “a matter of a few days” now that EU regulators have cleared EUR199.45 million euros (USD236 million) in state aid for the troubled carrier, to compensate for damages suffered during the coronavirus pandemic. The support will take the form of a direct grant for this amount, which corresponds to estimated damages that the virus directly caused to the airline from March 1 to June 15. The commission said it considered the outbreak to be an exceptional occurrence and an extraordinary, unforeseeable event, with significant economic impact. The European Union’s antitrust chief, Margrethe Vestager, cautioned in a statement, however, that investigations into past support for the airline are still ongoing and that the commission is in contact with Rome on compliance with EU regulations. “We continue working with member states to find workable solutions to support companies in these difficult times, in line with EU rules. At the same time, our investigations into past support measures to Alitalia are ongoing and we are in contact with Italy on their plans and compliance with EU rules,” Vestager said. The most recent measure is proportionate, she added, as “the compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage.” Following the approval, Italy's transport minister, Paola De Micheli, revealed on the sidelines of the Ambrosetti Forum economic conference that newco flag carrier Alitalia-Tai could now be launched in “a matter of a few days”, the newspaper Corriere della Sera revealed. “I really hope to have news in the middle of the week,” she added.

ELAL - Israeli flag-carrier El Al appears set to broaden its United Arab Emirates reach through a regular cargo service to Dubai, writes FlightGlobal. Several Israeli media outlets are carrying a statement from El Al that a weekly link to Dubai will be added to the route network of a Boeing 747 freighter service from Tel Aviv, although the flight will operate via Liege.The service will begin on September 16.El Al’s operations remain grounded with the exception of its 747-400 freighter, which is not Israeli-registered but wet-leased from US carrier Atlas Air and carries the US registration N487MC.Regular non-stop services between Israel and the UAE will be a subject of negotiations following the disclosure in mid-August that the two sides will normalize diplomatic relations. El Al has already marked the agreement with a special one-off flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi on August 31.UAE operator Etihad Airways, based in Abu Dhabi, has started offering a sales channel to customers within Israel, through tourism firm TAL Aviation. TAL says it is not yet offering a similar service for Dubai-based Emirates.

Eva Air - Taiwanese carrier EVA Air is amending its order for Boeing 787-10s, swapping some of the outstanding aircraft for B777 freighters and B787-9s.The airline said it had reached agreement with Boeing to exchange seven of the B787-10s yet to be delivered for four B787-9s and three B777Fs.EVA Air said the swap relates to an original order for 20 aircraft – comprising 18 B787-10s and two B777-300ERs – placed in November 2015.The carrier adds that the decision reflects “changes of market demands” as well as a “continuous optimization” of its network and fleet. It stated that the price of each B777F will not be greater than $382m and that for each B787-9 will not be more than $318m.EVA Air added that the total transaction will not exceed $7.3bn.It had previously signaled a potential change to the B787-10 order, in response to the air transport crisis. The carrier has taken delivery of five of the type.

FAA - The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), throughout the recent history of commercial aviation, has been the global leader for aviation safety and, in the same vein, certification. Whenever a decision was made by the FAA, the world would follow suit. However, could the fallout from the 737 MAX crisis result in the FAA losing its status as a global leader of aviation authorities around the globe? Historically, the FAA held the flag and was the leader on all fronts. When the DC-10 was grounded, for example, the U.S.-based authority was at the forefront of the decision. So in the lead that airlines based in Europe sued the FAA for allegedly overstepping its boundaries when the agency banned foreign-registered DC-10s to operate within the United States’ airspace. Nevertheless, after the administration had grounded the tri-jet, “a number of foreign governments halted DC-10 flights in their airspace,” reported the New York Times in September 1981.A more recent example could be the Boeing 787 Dreamliner groundings. After the 787 suffered several incidents involving its Auxiliary Power Unit’s (APU) lithium-ion batteries, the FAA grounded the wide-body on January 16, 2013. A day later, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a statement, whereupon the agency commented that it was working closely with the FAA as “the primary certification authority and Boeing.”“EASA has this morning adopted the FAA Airworthiness Directive in order to ensure the continuing airworthiness of the European fleet,” the statement read. At the time, the European fleet consisted of two Boeing 787 Dreamliner’s operated by LOT Polish Airlines. The Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB) followed the FAA as well, as the bureau “issued the airworthiness directive (Koku-ko-ki No. 92) based on the above mentioned FAA AD,” which ordered the groundings of the Dreamliner. Coincidentally, the two battery fires that prompted the suspension of operations of the 787 had been on Japanese-registered aircraft, belonging to Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA).


Week 36 (September 01 - 06)

Ocean Operations

Port of Los Angeles - Long Beach

  • The Port of Los Angeles reported 856,389 TEUs in July, which set to be their busiest month so far this year.
  • Also, fewer canceled sailings and 11 additional 'ad hoc' or unscheduled ship calls helped drive both imports and exports higher than in recent months.
  • July loaded imports decreased by 4.3% to 456,029 TEUs compared to the previous year. Loaded exports dropped 21.7% to 126,354 TEUs. Empty containers declined 0.1% to 274,007 TEUs.
  • Seven months into 2020, overall volumes are 4,618,278, a decline of 15.3% compared to 2019.
  • The Port of Long Beach, Los Angeles' neighbor at the San Pedro Bay Port Complex, reported its best month ever in July.
  • The major ports in California saw increased numbers during July in terms of container volumes. Long Beach, Los Angeles, and Oakland achieved high performances in a period when the COVID-19 pandemic's second wave seems closer than ever.
  • Port of Long Beach (POLB) celebrated a new record, as July was the busiest month in the 109-year history of the port. Terminal operators and dockworkers moved 753,081TEU, topping a record set two years ago (June 2018).
  • POLB reported a 21.1% increase compared to the same month in 2019. In particular, its imports climbed approximately 20% to 376,807TEU, exports grew about 24% to 138,602TEU, while empty containers headed back overseas increased by around 21% to 237,672TEU.
  • Both UP and BNSF reported a volume increase (UP's intermodal volume has risen faster than BNSF).
  • All these resulted in a congestion at port and rail for both import and export as well as a shortage of chassis. In some cases, we are hearing up to 10 days of delay at the port depending on where the container is located.
  • The surge of imports through the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that began in July and is projected to continue at least through September has interrupted a long-running shift in market share from US West Coast ports to East and Gulf coast gateways.
  • While imports were surging at the Southern California port complex, the largest East Coast gateways registered year-over-year volume declines in July.
  • Speed-to-market for e-commerce fulfillment and personal protective equipment (PPE), and cheaper all-in costs compared with air freight, are driving much of the increased volume to Southern California.
  • Carriers and forwarders are expecting these market forces to keep the Southern California port complex as the main gateway for US imports from Asia through the peak season.
  • Non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOs) are saying expedited services to Los Angeles and Long Beach are overscribed because of the speed-to-market requirements for PPE and e-commerce fulfillment. The cost savings compared with air freight further enhance the attractiveness of the expedited ocean services.
  • Retailers are also concentrating their imports through Los Angeles-Long Beach because uncertain consumer demand during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) allows them to defer designation of the US destination until their shipments arrive in Southern California. When booking via all-water services to the East Coast, the destination must be chosen when the containers are loaded onto the vessel, or several weeks before the shipments arrive at the ports.
  • The almost 40 percent increase in July import volumes in Los Angeles-Long Beach compared with just two months earlier in May has stressed the entire supply chain from the marine terminals to receiving warehouses, including labor and drayage capacity and equipment availability.
  • Union Pacific Railroad is using pricing to discourage shipments through the Pacific Northwest and Northern California in order to shift 53-foot domestic intermodal equipment to Southern California. UP has levied a surcharge on excess contract cargo in Lathrop-Stockton, California, and will issue a $500 surcharge in Seattle effective Sept. 6. Domestic volume in the Southwest — California, Arizona, and Nevada — increased 20 percent month over month in both May and June and 4.8 percent in July, according to the Intermodal Association of North America.
  • Truckers and marine terminals in Southern California are reporting chassis shortages and dislocations, and warehouses in the region are struggling to secure enough labor and maintain productivity levels due to the import surge and health concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Import growth in Los Angeles-Long Beach is expected to continue into early October, as evidenced by extra-loader vessels being deployed to Southern California. Long Beach had 10 extra-loader calls in July, 10 in August, and expects five more in September, while Los Angeles had 11 extra-loader calls in July and six in August, according to port spokespeople. Also, Mediterranean Shipping Co. announced last weekend it is adding a new weekly service from China to Long Beach in response to continuing strong demand.

Source: JOC

Air Freight Update

IATA market update - Air cargo traffic was stable in July but demand continues to be constrained by the lack of bellyhold capacity, according to the latest monthly report from IATA. Figures from the airline association show that demand in cargo tonne km terms fell by 13.5% year on year in July. IATA said this is a modest improvement from the 16.6% year-on-year drop recorded in June and the 14.1% fall over the first seven months of the year. However, cargo traffic is not increasing as fast as economic indicators suggest it should as a result of limited capacity, which in July was down by 31.2%.The capacity decline was led by reductions in belly hold space, down by 70.5% in July. This was, however, offset by a 28.8% increase in freighter capacity. As a result of capacity decreasing faster than demand, load factors improved by 11.5 percentage points to 56.4%. While economic indicators have diverged from air cargo performance over the last few months, there are some positive signs for the sector .The airline association said that new export orders statistics –a leading indicator for air cargo –show that CTKs should continue to improve in the coming period. IATA director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: “Economic indicators are improving, but we have not yet seen that fully reflected in growing air cargo shipments. “That said, air cargo is much stronger than the passenger side of the business and one of our biggest challenges remains accommodating demand with severely reduced capacity. “If borders remain closed, travel curtailed and passenger fleets grounded, the ability of air cargo to keep the global economy moving will be challenged. ”Looking at regional performance, airlines from the Asia Pacific region saw their cargo volumes drop by 17.7% year on year in July while capacity was down by 33.2%.“After a robust initial recovery in May, month-on-month growth seasonally-adjusted, demand has softened,” IATA said.  North America-based carriers reported a 2.9% increase in cargo volumes during July as a result of strong demand on the transpacific, Asia-North America route, reflecting e-commerce demand for products manufactured in Asia. Capacity was down by 24.4% during the month. Over in Europe, the region’s carriers registered a 22% year-on-year decline in July, while capacity was down by 36.5%. IATA pointed out that this was an improvement on the 27.6% drop off recorded in June. However, it added: “Demand on most key trade lanes to/from the region remained weak. Middle East-based carriers reported a demand decline of 14.9% in July while capacity was reduced by 27.3%.IATA said that demand had improved on June’s result, driven by the aggressive operational strategies of some of the region’s carriers. Latin American carriers posted a 33.2% drop in year-on-year demand in July, down from a 28.6% decline in June, while capacity decreased by 49.2% on last year. “The drop in both demand and capacity was the most severe of all regions,” IATA said. “The Covid-19 crisis is particularly challenging at present for airlines based in Latin America owing to strict lock-down measures. In July the Latin American air cargo market was smaller than the African market for the first time since these statistics have been reported in 1990.”Finally, African airlines posted a contraction of 4% in July as the small Africa-Asia market continued to support the region’s performance. International capacity decreased 33.7%.

Aer Lingus - Aer Lingus withdrawal from Shannon Airport could spell trouble, Throughout the mid-20th century, Shannon Airport (SNN) on the west coast of Ireland was booming, as airlines used the airport as a stopover before making their trans-Atlantic crossing. Now, the airport’s luck might have run out, as the de facto Irish flag carrier Aer Lingus is lingering with moving its transatlantic services to British cities.The trouble started to brew when Aer Lingus sought for tenders in the neighboring British island to place its Airbus A321LR (long-range) aircraft and launch new trans-Atlantic routes, as reported by the Irish Times. Six airports emerged as potential origin destinations for Aer Lingus' new services, including Edinburgh Airport (ED) in Scotland and Manchester Airport (MAN).If Aer Lingus does withdraw its A321LRs from the Irish airport completely, it could spell big trouble for Shannon as a commercial passenger gateway. But the pot of trouble had begun boiling much before the current pandemic rolled over and flattened the airlines’ plans and in turn, income.

Emirates - After the president of Emirates Tim Clark’s announcement about cutting thousands of jobs to diminish the airline’s costs previously in June 10, 2020, Dubai’s government is now demonstrating its financial commitment to the carrier. As the company currently faces a cash crunch, the government provided Emirates a fresh equity injection of $2 billion (AED7.3 billion). While no such injection has been publicly announced by the government of Dubai or the airline itself, the details about financial support were disclosed in a prospectus for a potential bond issuance by the government, reported Reuters. According to Emirates financial report of 2019-2020, the state-owned airline has already raised an additional liquidity of 1.2 billion (AED4.4 billion) in the first quarter and claimed it would aspire banks to raise the debt to fight the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Emirates has already cut 9,000 thousands of jobs as it tries to manage the crisis. However, the Gulf carrier is reportedly considering increasing the cuts to about 30,000 jobs, which would make it one the deepest cuts in a global airline industry forced by the pandemic yet. As previously reported by AeroTime News, the percentage of fired workers will most likely rise to 15% over. According to sources, on June 23, 2020, the airline asked cabin crew to take between one and three months voluntarily unpaid leave due to its anticipated staffing needs. As previously the president of the airline estimated, a return to the pre-crisis financial situation of the company may take up until 2024.

Avianca - The fighting-for-survival Colombian airline Avianca is about to get the government's support. Colombian government will lend up to $370 million to the struggling carrier and will participate in the airline‘s restructuring process. The Ministry of Finance announced that, being the largest airline in Colombia and one of the largest air carriers in Latin America, Avianca plays an important role in securing the country's aerial connections. “With a view to guaranteeing service, air connectivity for Colombians and general economic activity, the national government will participate in Avianca’ s restructuring process”, commented the Finance Ministry in a press release. Before filing the bankruptcy, Avianca had been providing about 500,000 direct and indirect jobs, the ministry counts. Moreover,  the airline was providing about $3.8 billion per year to the economy of the Andean states, that is equivalent to about 1.4% of gross domestic product. For this reason, Colombian government would not only participate in the airline’s turnaround by providing more than $370 million in loans, but would also contribute to a strategy to attract new investors, reported Forbes Colombia. “The operation will take place through a credit of up to $370 million in an 18-month transaction that corresponds to the estimated time the company’s restructuring process will last”, stated the Ministry of Finance and estimated that Avianca’ s credit would expire until November 2021. Before reaching the company, the loan will have to be confirmed by the Administrative Committee of the country’s Emergency Fund. After evaluation, it will have to be authorized by the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case in New York court. According to a credit rating report prepared by Moody's Investors Service, Avianca already had significant financial liabilities in 2019. As the COVID-19 pandemic hit the aviation industry worldwide and Colombia implemented a strict lockdown, the airline was able to operate only non-scheduled flights between late March and May 2020.The lack of liquidity and a total debt of $7.3 billion at the end of 2019 left the airline particularly vulnerable. On May 10, 2020, it filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 protection, identifying an unpredictable impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as the main cause of its collapse.

Ground Transportation Operations

  • The Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI) climbed another 3.3% this week to a new all-time high. OTVI has posted a string of consecutive all-time highs for many weeks now. Freight volumes as measured by OTVI (including tender rejects) are now 50% above 2019 and 58% above 2018.
  • While spot rates continue to spike, many motor carriers are making business decisions based on what they learned from 2018.  After capacity tightened in 2018 many carriers placed a record number of new truck and trailer orders, which created a much softer freight market in 2019. Carriers seem less willing to add extra capacity this time around, a common view expressed is that capacity won’t be added until COVID-19 is better under control and consumer demand becomes more predictable.
  • Union Pacific Railroad’s announcement last week that effective 8/31, they plan to impose a surcharge of $3,500/container for shipper excess volume out of the Los Angeles market. This new surcharge applies to shippers exceeding their peak season contractual allotment, which is significant as about 30% of  imports arrive in Los Angeles and approximately 30% of all intermodal volume travels on the Los Angeles to Chicago lane. Any tightening of intermodal capacity on the West Coast could force smaller shippers to switch back to truckload for longer-haul freight volume. Up until last Sunday, truckload volumes out of Los Angeles were already trending up 3% m/m, with rates climbing 5% m/m.
  • Hurricane Laura made landfall last Wednesday along the Gulf Coast, which resulted in New Orleans and Houston inbound load volumes spiking by 26% w/w as emergency agencies staged relief supplies. In contrast, outbound capacity tightened, as carriers avoided the area. That pushed rates up by 7% even though outbound load volumes dropped 10% w/w.
  • Expect more volatility in the spot market this week, especially as hurricane season reaches its peak. Just last week, the seven-day rolling average for dry van rates spiked 23 cents per mile heading into Gulf Coast markets. Expect similar rate and volume volatility on the outbound side, as shippers get back to work this week. National van rates ended last week at $2.11/mile (excluding fuel), which is 4 cents higher than the highest weekly rate recorded in 2018 – the high-water mark for dry van spot rates over the last four years.
  • The California Trucking Association, backed by the American Trucking Associations and supported by a coalition of other trucking groups, argued Tuesday in the federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (a court just one level below the U.S. Supreme Court) that motor carriers and owner-operators should remain exempt from California’s restrictive A.B. 5 law. The law, passed last fall by the California legislature and subsequently signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, sets limits on what types of workers can be classified as independent contractors, sweeping into that definition owner-operator truckers — both those leased to larger motor carriers and independent owner-operators that haul loads for other carriers.
  • The law effectively makes it illegal for carriers to contract loads to owner-operator drivers working as independent contractors. But in January, a U.S. District Court issued an injunction that exempts carriers from A.B. 5 while CTA’s lawsuit against the law is adjudicated. The injunction is effectively an exemption that allows motor carriers to continue working with owner-operators until a final decision is reached in CTA’s underlying lawsuit against A.B. 5.  The law has already had major ramifications in the state, with fleets large and small late last year announcing a move away from using owner-operators based in California, or even contracting them to haul loads in the state.
  • Insurance premiums for trucking have trended upward for several years, often with double-digit increases. But the issue is even more urgent now with pending congressional bills, the pandemic and insurance companies not showing profits.
  • U.S. intermodal containers and trailers—at 285,086 units—headed up 5% annually, coming in ahead of the weeks ending August 15 and August 8, at 278,210, and 277,054, respectively. Intermodal volumes have seen sequential weekly volume gains over the last four weeks, going back to the week ending August 1. And intermodal volumes have seen gains in 11 of the last 12 weeks, going back to the week ending July 24.
  • The price of diesel jumped by 1.5 cents nationwide to $2.441 a gallon, the Energy Information Administration reported Aug. 31, as much of the nation’s oil exploration and refining capacity was shut down because of two severe-weather events.

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