Port of New York-New Jersey break record, rising 27pc in April

THE Port of New York and New Jersey saw double-digit increases for total container volume, container imports, and autos, setting an April record with a total volume of 712,799 TEU, an increase of 27.3 per cent.

The surge brings the year through April total to 2.8 million TEU. Imports rose 26.5 per cent, totaling 359,265 TEU while imports at the two ports reached 1.4 million TEU, showing a 23.7 per cent increase.

Exports total led 121,671 TEU, a 25 per cent increase, and from January through April, exported loads reached 451,806 TEU, a 3.1 per cent decrease.

Export emptiesincreased 29.4 per cent in April, totaling 229,295 TEU while export empties reached 930,302 TEU from January Through April, an increase of 39.8 per cent. Import empties rose 37.9 per cent from January through April.

Rail volumeset a record totaling 63,896 containers, an increase of 13.1 per cent while total rail volume for the year through April is 5.8 per cent greater than the same period in 2020.

Auto volumesaw 43,036 autos moved through the ports in April, a 30.8 per cent increase. Overall, auto volume for the year is 15.7 per cent greater than the same period of 2020.

SF Holding aims to pay US$2.3b for controlling stake in HK's Kerry Logistics

ONE of the largest Chinese package-delivery services SF Holding is seeking to acquire control of tycoon Robert Kuok's Kerry Logistics Network Ltd in a HKD17.6 billion (US$2.3 billion) deal.

The Chinese courier plans to buy a 51.8 per cent stake in Hong Kong-listed Kerry Logistics at HKD18.8 per share, according to a joint statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Kerry Logistics also plans to sell some warehouse assets for HKD13.5 billion and its Taiwan business for TWD$4.5 billion (US$161 million) to its parent company, the statement said.

Kerry Logistics proposes a special dividend of HKD7.28 per share conditional on the completion of the warehouses sale. Shareholders who accept the SF's offer will receive HKD26.08 including the special dividend, representing an 11 per cent premium to the last closing price, according to Bloomberg

Mr Kuok, who is Malaysia's richest person, controls Kerry Logistics through his family holding company Kerry Group and its Hong Kong-listed real estate arm Kerry Properties Ltd. SF Holding will offer cash for the Kerry Logistics stake and plans to keep the company listed in Hong Kong. After the transaction, Kerry Properties's holding in the logistics firm will be cut to about 20 per cent from 40 per cent.

The deal will help SF Holding boost its distribution network and supply-chain services as it gains a footprint across Asia. Kerry Logistics would become the Chinese courier's primary vehicle for international expansion.

The Chinese group owns courier service SF Express, which has benefitted from the rise in online shopping in China fueled by companies like Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and JD.com Inc. In 2019, SF Holding completed the acquisition of Deutsche Post DHL Group's supply chain assets in China for CNY5.5 billion ($855 million).

Kerry Logistics offers air freight, trucking and ocean cargo services as well as customs brokerage and cross-border logistics for e-commerce companies. Its clients include fashion brands, food and beverage distributors, consumer goods companies, electronics manufacturers and other companies throughout the region.

JPMorgan Chase & Co is the financial adviser to SF Holding, while the Kerry Group companies have Citigroup Inc as their financial adviser.

Cathay develops fast and effective global vaccine distribution solution

CATHAY Pacific Cargo has come up with a new quality-assured solution aimed at the fast and effective import and transshipment of Covid-19 vaccines worldwide.

The cargo carrier said it has built on its many years of experience in transporting pharmaceutical shipments to develop the vaccine solution.

Cathay Pacific director Cargo Tom Owen said: "With our 20 dedicated freighters and cargo bellies of passenger aircraft supporting our extensive freighter network, we stand ready to assist with what will be the biggest humanitarian response to a situation involving civil aviation that anyone has ever seen."

Cathay Pacific Cargo is progressively rolling out Ultra Track as a key part of the vaccine solution. The next-generation track-and-trace system monitors information including temperature, GPS location, and humidity, using low-energy Bluetooth readers. This gives shippers and forwarders near real time visibility, and ensures vaccines will remain within their transportation temperature ranges.

In addition, shipments using Ultra Track will also be monitored by the newly established Operations Control Centre. Based in Hong Kong, and staffed by dedicated cargo professionals 24/7, the team can instruct ramp and cargo terminal staff to take proactive steps to ensure the various storage requirements of vaccines are maintained.

Mr Owen said: "Ultra Track will allow forwarders to monitor the condition of their vaccine shipments in near real time. It will be progressively rolled out through the first quarter of this year, and we will be offering the service free of charge for any COVID-19 vaccine shipments."

The combined approach follows on from an airport-wide recertification of IATA's CEIV Pharma accreditation at Hong Kong International Airport. Cathay Pacific Cargo, the Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal managed by Cathay Pacific Services Limited (CPSL) and ground-handling subsidiary Hong Kong Airport Services (HAS) have all been re-certified, offering a complete level of quality assurance at every stage of the import and transshipment journey.

Airport Authority Hong Kong General Manager Aviation Logistics Alaina Shum said: "Hong Kong International Airport advocates and supports the airport community in its CEIV Pharma recertification, which helps to cement its status as the world's leading and busiest cargo airport."

The Cathay Pacific Cargo Terminal is being expanded to offer more temperature controlled capacity. While it is currently able to temporarily hold and transit 6.6 million doses of vaccine a day, there is more to come. Mr Owen said: "We have just expanded so that it can handle more than seven million doses, and there will be more cold storage coming online soon. This new cold room storage will be able to handle a further 1.6 million doses."

"With the vaccine being so valuable and in such limited supply, it's critical that we get it right at every stage of the journey. We are confident about meeting the challenge, and we stand ready to play our part."

DHL Express delivers by air Covid-19 vaccines to Europe

DHL Express has operated more than 50 flights carrying Covid-19 vaccines to European destinations.

The company said it is "perfectly equipped" and prepared to transport Covid-19 vaccines in Europe and beyond, thanks to its hub and gateway network spanning 60 countries and territories in Europe, as well as its fleet of more than 100 aircraft.

The express giant has already delivered vaccines to Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Finland, Italy, Lithuania, Norway, Romania and Sweden.

Apart from Europe, it has transported vaccines to Bahrain, Chile, Costa Rica, Israel, Mexico, Oman and Singapore, according to London's Air Cargo News.

Chief executive at DHL Express Europe, Alberto Nobis, commented: "Our Express network has already proven its strong resilience during the first weeks of the pandemic. While almost all nations went into lockdowns, none of our operations had stopped.

"It is in our DNA to deliver, even in times of global crisis. With international express deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines we are supporting numerous governments in their fight against the pandemic. In Europe our strong presence allows us to move medical goods from country to country within up to 24 hours."

DHL's global healthcare portfolio includes more than 9,000 specialist staff working, 150 pharmacists, 20 clinical trials depots, 100 certified stations, 160 GDP-certified warehouses, 15 GMP-certified sites and 135 medical express sites. It also has a fleet of 260 freighters, numerous partner airlines and a hub and gateway network spanning more than 220 countries.

Air cargo carriers extend space guarantees, but at premium prices

THE air cargo industry is slowly rebuilding the block space agreement (BSA) structure scrapped by airlines when travel bans grounded half the available capacity in late March, but shippers looking for fixed rates out of Asia this year will pay premium prices for such guarantees.

Airlines are beginning to extend the rate validity offered on some major trades to three months, a huge improvement from the price and space guarantees of one week or even less when all the passenger belly capacity was pulled out of service overnight at the end of the first quarter of 2020.

Although much of that passenger capacity remains on the ground, forwarders are beginning to get on top of the demand flows, locking in space through the extensive use of charter flights and entering strictly controlled BSAs with airlines that are deploying passenger aircraft in greater numbers as all-cargo carriers.

"At the start of this crisis, maximum validity of the rates was only one week, then it increased to two weeks, and now we are getting to months," Jan Kleine-Lasthhues, chief operating officer for air freight at Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, said. "It depends on the carrier and trade lane, but we are at the point where we can negotiate longer rate validity. But the market remains unpredictable, so on longer fixed contract rates, carriers will price risks in."

Passenger aircraft grounded by travel restrictions introduced at the end of the first quarter to slow the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic will not be back at scale until at least 2024, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), and major airlines have slashed the size of their fleets to accommodate a long-term decline in demand, reports IHS Media.

With so much capacity out of the market and volumes remaining elevated due to sustained demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) and electronics, air cargo has essentially been operating under what would normally be considered "peak season" conditions since March. This imbalance of supply and demand pushed spot rates up to record highs in April and May on both the trans-Pacific and Asia-Europe trades, as well as on the trans-Atlantic. While the rates declined sharply in June as PPE demand dropped off, the tight capacity kept rates elevated compared with last year before rising into the end-of-year peak season.

With air freight capacity in such short supply, shippers have few options at the moment, Mr Kleine-Lasthhues said. "If you want guaranteed capacity for next year, the only way is to negotiate a BSA or charter. On some charter trades, you can negotiate long-term rates with customers that want to be on the safe side during the [Covid-19] vaccine rollout and are willing to buy fixed allocations."

The limited available air cargo capacity will be even more constrained as Covid-19 vaccines are distributed around the world. The Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine was approved in the UK in early December, and approvals for other vaccines are expected to follow. However, Niall van de Wouw, managing director of CLIVE Data Services, said the additional demand could be a positive development for shippers, because it will force airlines to deploy additional capacity.