Port of Long Beach Sets September Cargo Record, has Best Quarter in its History

Data shows the Port of Long Beach has seen its container volumes surge nearly 9 percent in 2017.
The 701,619 TEUs processed at Long Beach port terminals last month was a 28.3 percent improvement from the same month a year ago, according to recent data from the Southern California port.

The Port of Long Beach moved more containers last month than any September in its history, and also set a record for the number of containers moved in a single quarter, according to data released by the port Oct. 11.

The 701,619 TEUs processed at Long Beach port terminals last month was a increase of 28.3 percent compared to September 2016. And in the third quarter of the calendar year, the Port of Long Beach handled 2,114,306 TEUs, a 15.9 percent jump from the same period last year and more than any combined July, August and September in port history.

Port data show that volumes have been strong throughout the summer, with year-over-year gains of 9 percent in June, 13 percent in July, and 8 percent in August. July was the port’s busiest month ever, and now September is the third-busiest ever.

“Simply put, we are having the best trade months in port history,” Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum said. “Back-to-school merchandise (imports from Asia) was strong for us, and it looks like retailers are optimistic about the holiday season.”

Imports increased 29.5 percent last month to 366,298 TEUs, while exports rose 4.1 percent, to 125,336 containers. Empty containers moving out of Long Beach to be refilled with goods overseas totaled 209,985 TEUs, up 46.4 percent.

The huge jump in cargo last month relative to a year ago is partly due, the port said, to the Hanjin bankruptcy that was declared at the end of August 2016 and fully hit West Coast ports that September.

For the calendar year, Long Beach container volumes have surged 8.9 percent, statistics show. For the fiscal year that ended last month, POLB TEU traffic was up 4.1 percent compared to FY 2016, despite a 5.6 percent drop in loaded outbound containers.

“We’re expecting to have great numbers right through the end of the year and challenge 2007 for our highest annual container volume in history,” Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero said.

Ports Open, Vessel Operations Resume as Hurricane Nate Heads North

After making landfall in Louisiana as a category 1 hurricane, Nate weakened to a tropical storm shortly after, resulting in minimal structural damage and allowing U.S. Gulf Coast ports to reopen over the weekend.

Source: www.americanshipper.com

Vessel traffic has resumed along the U.S. Gulf Coast after Hurricane Nate made landfall in Mississippi as a category 1 hurricane over the weekend, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Sunday.

Hurricane Nate weakened to a tropical depression shortly after, but flooding and storm surges plagued the Gulf Coast over the weekend. The Coast Guard has warned vessel operators that hazards such as shoaling and storm debris may exist and aids to navigation may be damaged or missing as a result.

Operations at the Port of New Orleans remained unaffected by Hurricane Nate, according to the port’s website. The mouth of the Mississippi River at Southwest past was reopened on Sunday without restrictions and port docks and gates are active with cargo operations, the port stated.

The Alabama State Port Authority said in a tweet on Monday that, “the USCG Captain of the Port just opened the Port of Mobile ship channel with restrictions. Traffic is limited to 32-ft. draft vessels and daylight transit only.” The port allowed limited vessel operations on Friday and was closed on Saturday due to the storm.

As of Monday, the Port of Panama City is open with normal operations while the ports of Mobile and Pascagoula are open with restrictions including daylight transit only with a max depth of 32 feet. The Port of Pensacola remains closed due to post storm port condition Zulu, according to the U.S. Coast Guard. It will reopen once the U.S. Coast Guard finishes checking ship channels for obstructions.

The Port of Mobile, pictured above, is open with restrictions after Hurricane Nate.

On Monday the Port of Gulfport was under port condition Zulu, with boatloads of bananas and pineapples idling in the Gulf of Mexico as Dole and Chiquita awaited clearance to use the Gulfport Ship Channel in the Mississippi Sound, the Gulfport Sun Herald reported.

Jonathan Daniels, executive director of the state Port of Gulfport, said damage at the port was limited to debris on the West Pier and minor damage to the roof of a transit shed on the East Pier that is rented by McDermott International, reported the Gulfport Sun Herald.

However, on Tuesday, the U.S. Coast Guard has opened all gates and terminals at Gulfport, with restrictions. Vessel traffic is limited to daylights transits at a depth of 30 feet.

Major highways and trucking routes have been cleared of debris and floodwaters have receded. Little to no damage was done to structures in coastal Mississippi, reports stated.

On Friday, before the storm hit, Union Pacific (UP) railroad announced it had activated its hurricane response plan – strategically staging resources such as ballast, pumps, locomotives, generators and work crews throughout the affected region – and was working with the eastern carriers to reroute interchange traffic to Memphis. Approximately 1,700 rail cars in the Avondale and Westwego yards were moved to higher ground while interchanging traffic with area short line railroads including New Orleans & Gulf Coast Railway (NOGC) and New Orleans Public Belt Railroad (NOPB) were halted.

Kansas City Southern (KCS) railroad embargoed all traffic interchanging in New Orleans, LA, while Norfolk Southern (NS) repositioned rail equipment away from flood zones. Embargoes for New Orleans rail traffic was issued while traffic enroute to New Orleans was held at “various yards throughout the Norfolk Southern system in an effort to alleviate congestion,” the rail line said.

By Monday, all rail operations returned to normal due to the minimal damage sustained from the storm.

Hurricane Nate shut down about 90% of Gulf of Mexico oil production, however, and energy companies also “shut in” nearly 78 percent of natural gas production as a result of the storm, according to the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement. Damage to offshore platforms and Gulf Coast refineries appears “minimal,” and production at offshore platforms could soon resume, however.

Tropical Storm Nate is currently expected to bring 3 to 6 inches of rain to the Deep South, eastern Tennessee Valley and the southern Appalachians through Monday. The Ohio Valley, central Appalachians and Northeast could also get heavy rain before the storm exits Maine on Tuesday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center in Miami said.

Global Demand for Air Freight Continues to Grow


For the fifth time in six months, the global air freight market grew by double-digit figures.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) released data for global air freight markets showing that demand, measured in freight tonne kilometres (FTKs), increased by 12.1 per cent in August 2017, compared to the same period a year ago.

This was the fifth time in six months of double-digit gains on the previous year’s performance. Demand is growing at exceptional speed when compared to the five-year average growth rate of 4.4 per cent.

Freight capacity, measured in available freight tonne kilometres (AFTKs), grew by 4.7 per cent year-on-year in August 2017. Demand growth continues to significantly outstrip capacity growth, which is positive for industry load factors, yields, and financial performance.

The strong performance of air freight demand corresponds with the pick-up in global trade. World trade volumes grew 4.2 per cent in the first seven months of 2017 compared to 2016, their strongest performance since 2011. This is consistent with rising export orders, which are currently around their highest levels since March 2011, and upbeat business confidence indicators.

Signs that the peak of the cyclical growth period may be near also continue. The global inventory-to-sales ratio in the US, for example, has stopped falling. This usually means that re-stocking to meet demand (which gives air freight a boost), is ending.

The outlook for air freight remains strong. With several months of double-digit growth in 2017, the current IATA forecast of 7.5 per cent growth in air freight demand for 2017 appears to have significant upside potential even if we are approaching a cyclical peak.

“Air cargo had another stellar performance in August. Demand for air cargo grew at a double-digit rate for the fourth month in a row – outperforming demand for passenger travel for the fourth consecutive month. Rapid growth in cargo demand means that cargo capacity is now growing in response to real cargo demand rather than automatically as carriers responded to passenger demand. The pace of capacity growth, however, has slowed even as freighter fleets are being utilised more intensely. Overall, that should be good news for much beleaguered cargo yields,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Regional breakdown

Asia-Pacific airlines’ freight volumes grew 11.3 per cent in August 2017 compared to the same period a year earlier, and capacity increased by 5.7 per cent. Demand growth was strong on all the major routes to, from and within Asia-Pacific, consistent with strong export order books for the region’s manufacturers. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes increased in August after a slight dip in July and are now almost 6 per cent above the volumes reached following the 2010 post-global financial crisis bounce-back.

North American carriers posted an increase in freight volumes of 11.7 per cent in August 2017, and a capacity increase of 3.7 per cent. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes remain strong. The strength of the US dollar has boosted the inbound freight market over the past few years. Data from the US Census Bureau shows a 12.7 per cent increase in air imports to the US in the first seven months of 2017, compared to a slower rise in export orders of 5.8 per cent. Despite the US dollar remaining strong by historical standards, its slight decline since the start of the year is expected to start to help re-balance trade flows.

European airlines posted an 11.8 per cent increase in freight demand in August 2017 and a capacity increase of 5.1 per cent. Double-digit growth in international demand has now been recorded in 10 of the past 12 months. Concerns that the recent strengthening of the euro may have affected the regions’ exporters have not materialised. In fact German manufacturers’ export orders are growing at their fastest pace since early-2010.

Middle Eastern carriers’ year-on-year freight volumes increased 14.1 per cent in August 2017 and capacity increased 2.8 per cent. The strong pick-up in demand largely reflects favourable comparisons to a short-lived weak patch in demand in 2016 rather than an acceleration in the current demand trend. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes have maintained their solid upward trend. However, amid strong competition from other region’s carriers particularly on the Asia-Europe route, the Middle East carriers are not seeing as strong a pickup in the seasonally-adjusted traffic trend as other region’s carriers.

Latin American airlines experienced a growth in demand of 8.5 per cent in August 2017 and capacity increased by 9.3 per cent compared to the same period in 2016. International freight volumes increased by 9.5 per cent over the same period. This is close to a seven-year high and well above the five-year average rate of -0.1 per cent. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes grew strongly for the sixth consecutive month in August, however they remained 4 per cent lower than their peak in 2014. Despite this, seasonally-adjusted demand has been trending upwards at an annualised rate of about 20 per cent over the past six months. The pick-up in demand reflects signs of economic recovery in the region’s largest economy, Brazil.

African carriers posted the largest year-on-year increase in demand of all regions in August 2017 with freight volumes growing 29.4 per cent. This is a slight slowdown from July but still more than three times the five-year average pace of growth of 8.8 per cent. Capacity increased by 5.9 per cent over the same period. Demand has been boosted by very strong growth on the trade lanes to and from Asia which increased by more than 67 per cent in the first half of the year.


Image result for SOFRANA

Source: www.maritime-executive.com

CMA CGM has reached an agreement to purchase the majority of the shares in SOFRANA Unilines, a key player in the Pacific Islands regional maritime trade.

SOFRANA Unilines operates directly, or in partnership, a fleet of 10 vessels on eight trade-lanes, servicing 21 ports in Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the Pacific islands.

The company will be purchased through CMA CGM subsidiary ANL. ANL already offers 16 trade lanes servicing major ports throughout Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, North Asia, South East Asia, the Indian Subcontinent and North America. With successful operations in the South Pacific region for almost 50 years, SOFRANA will provide enhanced port coverage to ANL and CMA CGM in this region, says CMA CGM in a statement.

“ANL’s extensive reach across Asia, ISC and North America coupled with SOFRANA’s in-depth knowledge of the Pacific islands will provide customers with a new level of service and routing options, all supported by the financial and operational strength of the CMA CGM Group.

The newly combined group, SOFRANA ANL, will join CMA CGM’s portfolio of regional experts: OPDR and MacAndrews in Europe, CNC in Asia. In addition, CMA CGM announced in June its project to acquire Mercosul Line to build up its operations in Brazil.

The acquisition of SOFRANA Unilines is expected to be completed by the end of October.

Asia-Europe Spot Rates Still Under Pressure and Carriers Eye More Blanked Voyages

Hong Kong

Source: www.theloadstar.co.uk

Container spot rates from Asia to North Europe have fallen for the fifth consecutive week.

Today’s Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) reports a further erosion, of 2.7% to $714 per teu, for North Europe. This compares with around $950 at the beginning of August.

Carriers on the route were unable to “stop the rot” with their FAK (freight all kinds) hikes during the August and September peak season and will be concerned about further rate slippage as the industry enters the traditional slack season.

This begins next week with the Chinese Golden Week holidays. Demand for the immediate period following is said by carriers to be “weak”.

For Mediterranean ports, spot rates slipped 2.4% to $692 per teu. And online freight marketplace platform Freightos told The Loadstartoday its reading for early October was “consistently flat” rates from Asia as a whole.

Based on the reduced cargo prospects, carriers have announced that they will blank at least 14 sailings for Europe immediately after the Chinese holiday; but in order to prop up rates the blanking programme may need to be extended, or even loops temporarily suspended.

Aggravated by a number of factories being shut during the peak season by Chinese environmental regulators, spot rates came under renewed pressure at a time when they would normally be strong.

Alphaliner said that there was “a clear sign that rate cutting is starting to take hold again”, although Drewry disagreed and said there was “no rate war at the moment”, despite price levels softening.

Indeed, carriers could see all their good work of the first three quarters ruined by sub-economic rates in the final three months of the year. And continually softening spot rates in the next few weeks will have a negative impact on 2018 contract negotiations.

No doubt with this in mind, several carriers serving the route have announced FAK rate hikes for 15 October.

Meanwhile forwarders The Loadstar has spoken to recently have expressed concern about renewed rate volatility on the trade – not least because of the possibility that their customers could be targeted by rivals that have obtained budget rates from carriers, although these do not come with guarantees of shipment when space is tight.

UK-based forwarder Westbound Shipping Services explained that there was now a two-tier system of rates quoted by carriers: “budget” and “VIP”.

“In most cases, we are seeing differences of $200-$300 on these choices,” said Westbound.

It claims that when space becomes tight on vessels departing Chinese ports, loading of “budget” containers becomes “a lottery” and some boxes already on board have been discharged to the quay to make way for “VIP” contract cargo.

Meanwhile, a similar picture is emerging for the transpacific, with rates coming under pressure and carriers endeavouring to stem the tide with blanking programmes.

This week the SCFI recorded a second week of losses for the US west and east coasts. For the former, rates declined by 4.7% to $1,414 per 40ft, while for east coast ports there was a drop of 5.4% to $1,991 per 40ft.

At the beginning of August, spot rates for the US west coast stood at around $1,680 and for the east coast around $2,680.