air freight

Peak season is upon air freight

Peak season is quickly coming upon the air freight industry. 

Forwarders are reporting limited capacity on Asia-US, with rates from Hong Kong into New York now hitting HK$36 per kg (US$4.58) on major carriers such as Cathay, Cargolux and Asiana. Los Angeles rates are marginally lower, hovering at between HK$30 and HK$35++.

“The air freight market is very busy in China and Asia,” said one Asia-based forwarder. “The rate is increasing every week. But space is still extremely tight, even with high rates.”

He said capacity ex-Hong Kong was particularly in demand, and bulky, loose or dense cargoes were struggling to find space – “It’s very busy.”

Forwarders have a three-day wait to fly cargo out of key hubs in Asia, he added.

Emirates is thought to be full already for the rest of the week, ex-Hong Kong.

Shanghai is also seeing strong demand, and there has been a rise in charter flights to the US, with charter rates increasing apace, and some destinations now not available.

Crucially, November 11, singles day, is coming up and forwarders are predicting higher demand from then through to the end of November.

One EU air freight forwarder said: “The market is going north quickly on air freight inbound flows from Asia. It’s the usual seasonal trend, but the market is tightening up.”

But, he added, he didn’t see the peak being as strong as last year.

“Last year was pretty special. But I reckon there will be some mega peaks and spikes in November,” he said.

“The transpacific market got really busy a week or so back and it is usually two weeks ahead of Europe. European carriers will go for the high dollar rates into the US – and then Europe rates will increase to win back the space. It’s market dynamics.”

Europe too is already seeing movement, but rates are said to be more unsettled, although rising, with some key tradelanes out of Shanghai already busy, with a four-day wait on ad hoc cargo.

Fuel prices are also on the rise, with many carriers raising surcharges, and all carriers out of Hong Kong will raise surcharges from Thursday.

The real question will be if airlines manage to profit significantly – and keep rates high by restricting capacity and selling as much ad hoc space as possible during the peak.

“As airlines went into blocked space agreement discussions this year, their view was that there was too much capacity contracted in 2017, and they didn’t get the results they wanted,” said Neel Jones Shah, head of air freight for Flexport. “So they kept it back this year.”

Another forwarder added: “There are a lot more capacity protection agreements this year that have been signed with the carriers. My gut feeling out of China is that it’s 50%  blocked space agreements and 50% the floating market – we are starting to get two market mechanisms, like you have in shipping.”

The other question is how e-commerce will affect the peak – and for how long.

Speaking at a CIFFA event two weeks ago, Jamie Porteous, chief commercial officer for Canada’s CargoJet, noted: “The peak is explosive, it takes off after Thursday and lasts to the end of January.

“It’s dominated by e-commerce. We have seen a real transition from single digit growth – we’ve now had double digit growth for ten quarters.”

Another UK forwarder added: “The cycle on e-commerce stops much later, people are ordering right up to Christmas. And there is a really early Chinese new year this year, so there will probably be a lot of air freight in January as the Chinese factories won’t have that long.”

Source: The Loadstar

Heathrow Cargo

Heathrow cargo spend set to increase

Heathrow has been given the green light to spend £43m on its cargo activities – but input from carriers could stretch the budget further.

Head of Heathrow Cargo Nick Platts has long campaigned for a freight budget, and now has a five-point plan for the cash.

But one item on his wish list – a “forecasting and insights workstream”, which would give the airport better information on its cargo activities – is actually data the airlines already have.

“It would give us a macro level forecast with forward projections. Then we can identify high-risk days for congestion, and that can be built into the planning model. It’s really about better resource planning,” he explained.

“Leicester University has developed a flight level tool – it looks at aircraft type, destination and tonnage forecast and could help us to establish demand at the control posts. You then look at the landside vehicle movements.

“We need better insight into what’s moving, when and how. All we find out is what has departed or arrived, with no visibility on trucks or transfer traffic. We estimate that about 45% of volumes are transfer traffic – but we don’t know. So we don’t know what facilities to provide.

“We know the US is a big tradelane – but what’s moving on that lane? Do we need special handling facilities? Should we change the terminal design? Should it be biased towards traffic to the US, or Asia?

“All the master planning designs are informed by passenger flows – we need to do that for cargo.”

The carriers already have the data, but Mr Platts said they did not want to share it with the airport.

“We don’t know our trade flows, and we need to know. If the airlines won’t work with me, we will have to spend money – their money in fact – on finding information they already have.”

Another item on his list is an airside transfer facility for aircraft-to-aircraft movements, with a Border Force station.

“Border Force has indicated that it would look favourably at a transfer facility,” said Mr Platts. “And we had one airline agree, and helped choose a spot for it. Then we got caught up in governance and the airline ended up changing its mind.

“However, another airline is interested and we will have more discussions about the building and what facilities are needed.

“It will be fairly basic for now, but as part of the expansion programme we have set aside additional land for screening and will work with airlines on that.”

The initial facility will cost about £1m, said Mr Platts.

Next on the shopping list is a truck park near Terminal 4.

“There will only be space for about 75 vehicles, but it’s a start,” said Mr Platts. “We will have to relocate the existing users, add toilets and showers for the hauliers and we are talking to landlord Segro as to how we link it to the cargo area.”

The park is one of the more expensive items on the list – at about £14m – as the site needs to be cleared.

Next up is a single examination area for Border Force, Customs and a new animal reception centre.

“It will be a more efficient use of inspection spaces and will reduce traffic,” said Mr Platts. “And it will be a much more efficient operational set up. The animal centre needs more capacity; we have identified a site and we have the broad requirements.

“It’s not just a new building, it’s about using new technology and introducing new ways of working.”

The new centre comes with a price tag of £23m.

Heathrow also plans to build a new stillage facility, with racking for empty ULDs.

“At the moment containers are stored on the ground, and we have found that they blow loose – and have even blown towards the runway.”

The rack will hold about 870 ULDS and was once all set to be developed, until the supplier tasked with building it went bust. Heathrow is now looking for a new supplier for the facility, which will cost about £3m.

Heathrow announced last week that volumes were up 1.5% in the first nine months of the year, reaching 1.3m tonnes, which it said was due in part to five new services to China.

Source: The Loadstar

 

christmas

Christmas bookings for sea freight need to be organised as soon as possible

Are you feeling festive yet?! Maybe not, but sea freight imports need to be organised soon to get them in time for Christmas! Time is of the essence.

Please contact a member of our team as we have very competitive rates for this month – email enquiries@supremefreight.com or call 02380 337778

We handle all types of cargo, including full container load (FCL), less container load (LCL) and NVOCC groupage shipments. We have long standing relationships with a global network of agents at all origin ports which means that we can offer you the best possible service. We have over 30 years experience in the shipping industry, and we can arrange all the necessary documentation to make sure that your goods are transported as seamlessly as possible.

Contact us as soon as possible with your needs so that we can make sure that you don’t miss out. Demand will see a massive increase at this time of year and we can help make sure that stress levels are kept to a minimum!

port terminal

Port terminals need to be more cost effective

Pressure is mounting on container ports to improve efficiency in terminal operations, as wholesale change in the shipping industry continues to increase competition and drive down revenue per box.

According to Mark Welles, Navis vice president and general manager Asia Pacific, terminal operators are “aggressively attacking their cost base and figuring out ways to use some of their tools to do more with less”.

This includes using automation to drive incremental changes that improve operational efficiency, whether waterside or at the terminal gate.

“Terminals are making the small or large changes they need to keep their businesses moving ahead against the challenges from consolidation on the carrier side,”

“Some terminals are handling more volume, but in some markets the revenue per teu is decreasing – or certainly not increasing the way it used to – so they’re having to manage their business in a different way.

“That efficiency drive has two parts: one is to be the better service provider [than regional port competitors]; but also to reduce your costs, which therefore either gives you more flexibility on the commercial side, or it means you’re a more profitable business,” he added.

Mr Welles was speaking after a visit to the Qingdao New Qianwan Container Terminal (QQCTN), which uses Navis N4, the port software specialist’s flagship terminal operating system (TOS).

“Full automation is working well for them and helping to set the stage for what’s possible in China and Asia, in terms of the success they’ve had,” he explained.

Navis has worked with ports to implement around 120 software “go-lives” at terminals around the world over the past two years. The port of Tianjin managed to install N4 at six terminals in less than 12 months, a feat Mr Welles described as “almost unheard of”.

The importance of a well-functioning TOS was brought into sharp focus by the IT failure experienced recently at Felixstowe. The botched installation of an in-house TOS led to prolonged operational interruptions and subsequent diverted vessel calls. The resulting supply chain disruption – which was at first contained to UK ports – has now spread to northern Europe.

It appears Hutchison, the Hong Kong port group that runs Felixstowe, was bucking a trend with the decision to develop its own TOS.

“It’s fair to say, from a macro-level, over the past five years we’ve seen more and more of the regional and global terminal groups partnering with an experienced solutions provider to ‘buy don’t build’,” said Mr Welles.

He claims ports generally prefer suppliers that provide turnkey solutions for the full spectrum of systems and equipment required for each aspect of terminal operations.

Source: The Loadstar