Month in Review – February 2023
February 1: Cross-Alliance Cooperation on the Increase as Market Weakens – The Loadstar
Ocean carriers are pulling capacity from Chinese export routes and redeploying the ships to more robust tradelanes with growth potential.
Moreover, the weakness in the Chinese market is prompting more discussions on carrier slot swap agreements between rival alliances.
“Poor cargo demand in China and falling ocean spot freight rates have led to significant changes in global fleet deployment,” said Alphaliner.
February 3: Pressure on Carriers Drives Cut-Throat Freight Market for China’s Exports – The Loadstar
On the transpacific, Drewry’s WCI Asia to U.S. west coast reading was down 1% on the week, to $2,056 per 40ft, whereas the XSI saw a drop of 3%, to $1,529.
However, on the U.S. east coast, the Freightos Baltic Exchange FBX reading held steady last week at $2,660 per 40ft.
And transatlantic shippers are starting to see the impact of the significant injection of extra capacity on the route, with another 5% fall in the FBX North Europe to the U.S. east coast spot, to $4,956 per 40ft.
According to Vespucci Maritime CEO Lars Jensen, the immediate outlook for carriers is more of the same, with new rate wars looming across tradelanes.
He noted that volumes on the major deepsea trades were “either at, or below, pre-pandemic levels following the collapse which began in September.”
February 7: FMC Demands Answers from MSC over Congestion Surcharges – Splash
Using its newfound powers granted by President Joe Biden, the Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) has taken aim at the world’s largest containerline, Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC).
The FMC is questioning a congestion fee MSC charged SOFi Paper Products in a first case of its kind since the passing last year of the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (OSRA). MSC has until the end of the month to explain why it should not pay a refund to SOFi.
The FMC said MSC never provided “justification” to SOFi stemming from a $1,000 “congestion surcharge” levied against SOFi in July.
February 9: Maersk Lays Out Integrator Plan: No New Alliance Post 2M – The Loadstar
Maersk has said that being a member of a vessel-sharing alliance (VSA) was “not compatible” with its global integrator aspirations.
And it sees the break-up of the 2M Alliance as “simply a transition from three to four networks,” as both MSC and Maersk decide to operate standalone services on east-west trades.
Taking questions during the company’s full-year and Q4 results presentation, CEO Vincent Clerc said he did not expect the end of the 2M VSA to induce a “role of musical chairs that has been talked about, with everybody trying to find new partners.”
He said: “Today there are three major networks on the east-west, in the future there will be four.”
February 10: Dockworkers Urge Trudeau to Sink Vancouver Port’s $3.5 Billion Terminal 2 Expansion Project – Business in Vancouver
The union representing Port of Vancouver dockworkers has delivered a strong thumbs-down to the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority’s (VFPA) proposed multibillion-dollar container terminal expansion project at Roberts Bank.
In a February 9 open letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the federal cabinet, the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Canada (ILWU) congratulated the federal government for successfully hosting the recent COP15 environmental summit but pointed to the VFPA’s $3.5 billion Terminal 2 expansion project as running counter to COP15’s aims to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by the end of the decade.
Terminal 2, which would add 2.4 million 20-foot equivalent units (TEUs) to the port’s annual container handling capacity, would require the construction of an artificial island in what Terminal 2 opponents point out is an environmentally sensitive marine area.
The ILWU also argues that the project’s sliding timelines and ballooning costs are a “major risk to all port tenants, operators and labour in an uncertain time.”
It also expressed concerns about Terminal 2’s automation and the subsequent job losses it would result in and the amount of money the port would need to borrow to finance the project.
February 14: Opening Date of Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Seaway 2023 Navigation Season – Seaway notice
The opening date for the 2023 navigation season is scheduled to take place as follows:
- Montreal / Lake Ontario Section: March 22 – 0800 hours
- Welland Canal: March 22 – 0800 hours
Ship transits will be subject to weather and ice conditions. Restrictions may apply in some areas until lighted navigation aids have been installed.
February 15: DCSA’s Member Carriers Commit to a Fully Standardized, Electronic Bill of Lading by 2030 – DCSA press release
The Digital Container Shipping Association (DCSA) has announced that its nine ocean carrier members commit to 100% adoption of an electronic bill of lading (eBL) based on DCSA standards by 2030. Switching away from the transfer of physical paper bills of lading could save $6.5 billion in direct costs for stakeholders, enable up to $40 billion in annual global trade growth, transform the customer experience and improve sustainability, said the association in a press release.
Manual, paper-based processes are time-consuming, expensive and environmentally unsustainable for stakeholders along complex supply chains. Paper-based processes break down when cargo in ports cannot be gated out because original bills of lading fail to arrive or cannot be manually processed in time. In contrast, digital processes enable data to flow instantly and securely, reducing delays and waste.
February 19: Shipping Containers with Billions of Dollars Worth of Imports Are Stuck at Pakistan’s Ports – gCaptain
A bunch of Pakistan’s biggest companies have halted operations in the past months as they ran out of raw materials or foreign exchange, or both, compounding the troubles of an economy that’s trying to avert a debt default.
The local unit of Suzuki Motor Corp. extended the shutdown of its manufacturing plant to February 21, according to a statement to the stock exchange, saying that parts shortages are persisting.
Ghandhara Tyre & Rubber Company, which manufactures tires and tubes for automobiles, had shut its plant from February 13, saying it’s facing “immense hurdles towards importing raw materials and obtaining clearance of consignments from commercial banks.”
Those are just two out of a cluster of listed companies that includes manufacturers of fertilizers, steel and textiles that have shut their factories indefinitely or suspend operations intermittently as they grapple with a shortage in inventory or cash, or even a drop in demand.
Pakistan’s $3.19 billion in foreign currency reserves mean that the nation is unable to fund imports, stranding thousands of containers of supplies on its ports and stalling production, putting jobs at risk. Inflation that’s also increasing at the fastest rate in almost half a century is putting many goods out of the public’s reach.
February 20: Three Months to Get Iskenderun Terminal Operations Back to Normal – Splash
Management at LimakPort Iskenderun, the Turkish container terminal badly battered in this month’s mega earthquake, have said it will take around three months to get operations back to normal.
The port was severely damaged in the wake of the February 6 earthquake and suffered structural damage, as well as a severe blaze as containers caught fire. The fire at the Mediterranean terminal was eventually put out after three days. Carriers have put in alternate calls to other ports in the region this month, something they will continue to do through to late spring.
A total of 3,670 containers were burnt in the fire, management has revealed and clean-up operations are now underway.
February 21: Centerm Expansion Project Complete, Increasing Port of Vancouver Container Capacity – Port of Vancouver press release
Construction on the Centerm expansion project at the Port of Vancouver is now complete.
The project focused on innovative ways to make best use of the limited trade-enabling industrial land available and allow Centerm to handle 60% more containers by increasing the terminal footprint by 15%. Work completed includes expanding the terminal footprint to the west and east, reconfiguring and expanding the container yard, building state-of-art truck gates, expanding the intermodal yard, building a new operations facility, and improving marine habitat.
While construction of the terminal improvements is complete, work is ongoing to optimize operations to deliver the full capacity increase at Centerm. The full capacity gains are expected to be realized later this year, increasing the terminal’s container handling capacity by two-thirds from 900,000 TEUs to 1.5 million TEUs.
February 23: Negotiators Say U.S. West Coast Longshore Contract Talks Continue, Hopeful of Deal Soon – Supply Chain Dive
The two parties involved in West Coast port labour talks said, “they remain hopeful of reaching a deal soon,” according to a February 23 joint news release.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association said they continue to negotiate and both sides agreed not to discuss negotiations with the media as bargaining continues.
So far, the two sides have reached a tentative deal on “certain key issues, including health benefits, and remain committed to resolving remaining issues as expeditiously as possible,” according to the release.
February 10: WestJet Pilots Ask for Federal Assistance after Months of Failed Contract Talks – Global News
The union that represents pilots at WestJet says it is asking for federal assistance after months of failing to reach a contract agreement with the airline.
The WestJet Master Executive Council, represented by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA), says it has filed a request for conciliation assistance with the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service.
The federal Minister of Labour now has 15 days to appoint a conciliation officer. Once appointed, the officer would work with the parties for 60 days to reach an agreement.
If the parties remain at an impasse following this period, a 21-day cooling-off period begins before the parties can consider other alternatives, including a strike or lockout.
February 12: Heathrow Airport Workers Plan to Ballot for Strikes, Union Says – American Journal of Transportation
Heathrow Airport’s security, engineering and firefighting staff represented by the Unite Union will next week begin balloting for strikes, adding pressure to UK’s transport network, which has been hit by a wave of industrial action.
More than 3,000 members of UK’s Unite Union will start voting on February 17, with the ballot closing on March 17. These workers had rejected a 10% pay increase, the union said in an emailed statement on Sunday.
February 27: ‘Grim Reality’ Airlines Are Facing over Pilot Shortage – Air Cargo Week
The chairman of the board of Avia Solutions Group Gediminas Ziemelis has predicted a shortage of 300,000 pilots within a decade, which he describes as a “grim reality airlines are facing.”
Pilots work through a seniority-based system. This means that these aviation professionals progress through ranks and open positions as they advance in their careers. For many airlines, the recruitment process requires qualified pilots to bid for open positions, after which they receive intensive training to match the skill requirements for a specific position, notes Ziemelis.
On the other hand, the retirement system may create a ripple effect, exposing airlines to unexpected crew shortages, mainly due to unmatched levels of newly hired and adequately trained pilots and those going into retirement.
February 3: Canadian Rail Shippers Praise Feds’ Actions to Collect More Freight Data – FreightWaves
While the Canadian government has made inroads regarding the collection of additional freight rail data metrics and the preservation of interswitching, Transport Canada could go a few steps further in regulating better service in Canada, say rail shippers.
Transport Canada in January said the Canadian government approved amendments to the transportation information regulations that would require major railways to supply additional freight rail data, including waybill information – such as origin, destination and weight – and traffic data – such as the number of carloads, goods and car types.
This data will be published weekly on the Canadian government’s Transportation and Information Hub “to provide Canadians with a better picture of end-to-end freight rail performance,” according to a January 9 news release. The modifications become effective April 4 and include data pertaining to certain first-mile and last-mile metrics. Plus, the railways must report the number of operating employees available to move traffic.
February 16: Report: Canada’s Rail Rates Among the World’s Lowest – Progressive Railroading
A consultant’s report requested by the Railway Association of Canada (RAC) shows that Canada’s freight-rail rates are the lowest of major market-based economies the firm surveyed, including in the United States.
The report by CPCS concluded that Canada’s average freight-rail rate is 11% lower than that of the United States, according to a press release from RAC.
Using publicly available data, the study surveyed 11 countries representing two-thirds of global gross domestic product. All of the countries are home to high-performing rail systems.
February 20: Unifor Taking Strike Votes at CN – Inside Logistics
Unifor’s CN workers will be taking strike votes this week.
Unifor’s two national bargaining committees continued contract negotiations with CN the week of February 13-17 in Montreal. This was the fifth bargaining session with the company since bargaining opened on October 19, 2022.
Unifor’s national collective agreements with CN that cover the working conditions of more than 4,000 workers expired on December 31. Two bargaining committees are involved, Council 4000 and Local 100. Local 100 represents locomotive and freight-car mechanics, electricians and apprentices. Council 4000 represents over 3,000 employees, including workers at CN, Intermodal, CNTL and CN Savage Alberta Railway.
February 22: Illinois’ Federal Lawmakers Urge STB to Put Off CP-KCS Merger Decision – Progressive Railroading
Federal lawmakers from Illinois have asked the Surface Transportation Board to defer its decision on the proposed merger between Canadian Pacific and Kansas City Southern until the board conducts a “more thorough and accurate study” of its potential impact on the Chicago area.
In a February 17 letter, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, and U.S. Representatives Raja Krishnamoorthi and Delia Ramirez (all Democrats) wrote that the STB’s recently released environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed merger relied only on data provided by CP and ignored more comprehensive modeling provided by Chicago commuter railroad Metra, whose tracks CP trains operate on.
February 3: Provinces Differ in ELD Enforcement Penalties – Today’s Trucking
More than a month into the enforcement of the federal electronic logging device (ELD) mandate, individual provinces are taking different approaches when it comes to penalties.
February 9: Government of Canada Invests in Trucking HR Canada’s Career ExpressWay Program – THRC press release
Trucking HR Canada (THRC) has introduced an addition to its Career ExpressWay Program. Thanks to funding from the Government of Canada, the trucking industry will look to recruit and onboard up to 2,600 new workers in both driving and non-driving roles.
This new injection of funding will provide up to $10,000 to cover the cost of entry-level driver training for those looking to enter the occupation, along with a wage incentive of the same amount to support employers with onboarding, mentoring and finishing training. Wage incentives are also available for new hires in other in-demand positions.
February 10: CTOA Defends Driver Inc. Model – Today’s Trucking
You’d be hard pressed to find a more divisive issue in the Canadian trucking industry than the so-called Driver Inc. employment model for truck drivers.
Driver Inc. – a definition coined by those who oppose the practice of classifying drivers of company-owned equipment as independent contractors – has been widely adopted in the trucking industry. Carriers that stand by the traditional employee/employer classification feel the Driver Inc. model is used to reduce costs and undercut rates by sidestepping employer source deductions and depriving drivers of certain rights under employment law.
The Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) and its provincial partner associations have aggressively called on federal and provincial governments to crack down on the practice and have complained that enforcement has been woefully inadequate.
But tell that to the member fleets of the newly formed Canadian Truck Operators Association (CTOA), which largely comprises the growing number of fleets who prefer the model. They say they’ve been unfairly targeted by federal and provincial agencies that have in some cases laid fines against them for misclassifying drivers. And they have a lawyer who supports their position and is willing to go to bat for them where drivers in fact have an independent contractor relationship with the company for which they drive.
February 13: B.C. Provincial Carriers Required to Use ELDs Beginning August 1 – Today’s Trucking
Provincially regulated commercial vehicle operators in British Columbia will be required to use electronic logging devices (ELDs) beginning August 1.
Failure to equip a vehicle with a compliant ELD will lead to a $520 fine, according to a new National Safety Code bulletin issued February 13 by the B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.
February 24: Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Postponing Truck Replacement Program for Third Time – CBC News
The Vancouver Fraser Port Authority is suspending a controversial program to replace older trucks servicing the port for at least another nine months while it reassesses its plans.
It is the third time the port is postponing the Rolling Truck Program, which was supposed to begin April 3 to phase out trucks more than 12 years old to improve air quality and community health.
Truckers who use the port say the onus is on owners and operators to replace the older vehicles at a steep cost, even though many of them already meet emissions standards.
The port authority says the decision comes because of the state of the economy and ongoing issues related to the pandemic, but it plans to explore new technologies and will reassess its emissions-reduction strategy.
February 26: NACFE Offers Guidance for Navigating the ‘Messy Middle’ – Today’s Trucking
The North American Council for Freight Efficiency (NACFE) has dubbed the current part of the trucking industry’s journey toward decarbonization as the “messy middle,” but it doesn’t want that to be viewed negatively.
“It shouldn’t have a negative connotation,” said Jeff Seger, author of NACFE’s latest report on the messy middle. “It’s just a period of a lot of different options for fleets, and a lot of decisions are going to need to be made.”
Decarbonization is already in progress, added NACFE head Mike Roeth. This is even true for fleets that are still burning diesel, as they slash emissions through things like improved aerodynamics, low rolling resistance tires, idle reduction, and other diesel-compatible options that are currently available.
The ‘messy middle’ is a time for fleets to take action, Roeth added. But he also cautioned fleets to only adopt the technologies that make sense in their applications. “Do not push a hamburger on a vegetarian,” he said, noting fleets should adopt technologies that make sense for them today.
CIFFA Advocacy, Communications, Activities
February 9: CIFFA Selects 2023 Canadian Young Logistics Professionals Award Winner – CIFFA press release
Every year, CIFFA offers an award to a young freight forwarder who best demonstrates industry knowledge and skills to become a true international freight forwarding professional in the future.
After a review process of industry experience and a written dissertation demonstrating technical knowledge, CIFFA is pleased to announce that Viktoriia Rudyk of DSV Air & Sea Inc. has been selected as the 2023 Canadian Young Logistics Professionals Award winner.
Originally from Ukraine, Viktoriia came to Canada to study the 2-year International Business Management diploma program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT) in Vancouver. In addition, she has taken the CITT and CIFFA courses, has been actively volunteering, participating at different networking events, and has worked on projects as a student consultant at Delta Chamber of Commerce and the World Trade Centre Vancouver. After finishing her studies at BCIT, Viktoriia joined the trainee program at the Toronto branch of DSV Air & Sea Inc. At DSV she has worked as an Air Import Coordinator, an Air Export Coordinator, and currently works as an Ocean Import Team Lead in Montreal. She is a big fan of the continuous learning concept and likes the constant challenge that the freight forwarding profession offers.