Demand for urgent medical supplies and personal protection equipment has started to taper off, sending airfreight rates on a steady decline from May’s record highs. The increased capacity from the use of passenger planes for carrying cargo has also helped bring these prices down, and analysts remain optimistic that a continued surge in ecommerce will help prop up rates.
Tensions between the U.S. and China remain high. Earlier this week, the Trump Administration threatened to block Chinese passenger airlines from flying into or out of the U.S. in response to China continuing to bar international airlines from operating in the country. This morning, however, Chinese officials appear to be moving to quell the dispute, announcing that foreign airlines will be allowed to operate one flight per week in Chinese cities.
Despite optimism that June would be the start of the rebound for ocean freight, THE Alliance announced this week that its carriers would continue to blank sailings in large numbers through at least September. The carriers—Hapag-Lloyd, HMM, Ocean Network Express and Yang Ming—have announced 75 blanked sailings so far for the third quarter. This is likely just an effort to remain conservative, however, as they can always bring in new sailings if demand requires it.
Charges have been made in response to the May 24 incident that sent 50 containers tumbling from an APL ship near Australia. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s inspection of the ship found “inadequate lashing for cargo and heavily corroded securing points for containers on the deck,” and have deemed the ship unfit to depart from the Port of Brisbane where it currently sits. The charges filed cite significant, preventable damage to the marine environment.
In light of the adaptations the world has been making in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, a group of 10 maritime organizations, led by the International Association of Ports and Harbors, is pressing ports to go digital. Paper bills of lading, person-to-person contact, and cybersecurity have all become serious threats to health and safety at ports during the coronavirus pandemic, and have come to highlight the need to modernize port operations.
After months of steep drops in long haul trucking throughout the U.S., May ended with promising signs. Volume indexes hit some of their lowest points in April, but overall, things are starting to move again. Since long haul freight is typically replenishment from distribution centers moving to stores, it also signals an anticipated return of overall consumer demand.