COVID-19 latest news
17th March, 2020
With Coronavirus (COVID-19) continuing to spread around the world, the logistics industry is facing constant challenges as we try to cope with the pandemic. While countries are doing what is best for their citizens to reduce the spread, we are trying to find ways to work within these constraints to move cargo as best as possible to keep our clients operational. Countries and states have declared states of emergencies, borders have been closed, airlines have cancelled flights or cut up to 90% of their capacity and most companies are shutting down operations and encouraging staff to stay at home. These are unprecedented times and the situation is changing by the hour.
It is important to note that some cargo is still moving, albeit in different ways from before or with delays. Southern Cross Cargo and our agency network are still operational and will remain so unless authoritative bodies declare otherwise. Southern Cross Cargo are in the position where all of our staff can work from home, fully functional, should they so require. We have however reiterated to all of our staff that should they be unwell, they are to follow medical advice and not come to work or travel.
Southern Cross Cargo has put plans in place to ensure we continue to provide services during the pandemic, and we are developing operational plans to ensure we uphold our service’s to you through this difficult period. Importantly, we aim for flexibility and responsiveness in our interactions with you as we know your circumstances, and those of the wider industry and global impacts, require reactions and measures that can be adjusted on a daily, if not hourly, basis. We continue to monitor the government health organisations to ensure we are looking after our staff, customers and our community.
Our biggest restriction is the reduced capacity of vessels and airlines and the closing or borders, making redirected solutions harder to manage.
With many factories back to production, the issue here is the capacity of airlines to take the cargo because of the passenger travel restrictions. While freighter capacity is only down 5%, the lack of belly space on passenger flights is seriously impacting the transit times as backlogs become more apparent. Space is extremely tight which in turn is causing rates to increase dramatically. Shipping lines who were also running at reduced capacity are faced with Quarantine measures and delays at loading, forcing them to omit ports southbound to Australia.
With significant virus concerns in South Korea and Japan, airlines have significantly cut capacity. Similarly, many other nations have placed travel bans or are in the process of Quarantining all visitors for 14 days. Reduced trucking capacity, staffing numbers and limited equipment is affecting port capacity. Hazardous cargo, refrigerated cargo and dangerous goods are experiencing delays in bookings. Most shipping lines have maintained the reduced space they were running at CNY. India is reported to be closing its borders to all vessels within the 14 day Quarantine period which affects transhipments and transit times.
With many US states now in lock down, several airlines have announced reduced international capacity. American Airlines announced it was grounding 75% of its international fleet. Qantas and Virgin, both regular options on the US-AUS trade have also announced large reductions. Shipping equipment is still in short supply after the China shut down and carriers have announced an Equipment Stabilising Fee – essentially to help cover the costs of reduced capacity and equipment. Freighter schedules from the USA are still inconsistent, but are ramping up and getting back to normal (prior to CNY), how these will be impacted with further border closures is yet to be seen. We can expect the USA situation to worsen as the virus numbers increase
With most European countries now in lock down, things are becoming quite tumultuous with regards to moving cargo. In some area, people are allowed to go out of their homes purely to go to work, and borders are still open for commercial goods, however it is unknown how long this will continue for. Some freighters are still operational in an effort to keep cargo moving, but there are only so many options running on each trade lane so space is limited and delays expected. With the extended CNY incurring blank sailings and equipment shortages in Europe we are now seeing reduced capacity on vessels. While freight will continue to move via Seafreight, it will be subject to government restrictions on borders and whether vessels will be allowed into port.
As the situation evolves, we will ensure to keep you updated. We thank you for your patience and understanding during this time. We hope you, your loved ones and all your colleagues remain safe and follow the required precautions during the coming days/weeks.
While the disruptions to our daily lives are almost too numerous to mention, a massive thanks must go to all of the medical workers who are continuing to be at the forefront of this disaster. We cannot thank you enough for the efforts you are expending and the support you are giving to our most vulnerable.
Please get in touch with firstname.lastname@example.org should you require any further details.