Congestion forced shippers into air freight at height of the market, Drewry says

Greg Knowler, Senior Asia Editor | Dec 01, 2014 6:22AM EST

HONG KONG — The U.S. West Coast port congestion drove shippers to air freight at the worst possible time with rates for air cargo at the seasonal highpoint of what is turning out to be the most robust peak season in years.

After four months of stable pricing, air freight rates surged in Oct. on the back of strong demand and the conversion from ocean shipping, according to Drewry’s container insight. This has temporarily reversed the long-term modal shift from air to ocean as shippers took to the skies to make sure their goods hit the stores in time for the U.S. holiday season.

Ocean carriers and terminals have been battling congestion in Los Angeles and Long Beach all year, but conditions have worsened in the peak-season months, severely disrupting container handling at the U.S. gateway.

As delays began to roll down the supply chain, some shippers pre-empted the disruption in the container sector by moving cargo earlier and via the longer all-water route to the U.S. East Coast. However, as the countdown to “Black Friday” and the start of the holiday season neared, more costly air freight solutions were required.

According to Drewry, high average rates on the Asia-U.S. route was responsible for most of the overall hike in east-west trans-Pacific air freight rates in Oct. By contrast, container freight rates on the route were in decline.

So what did it actually cost shippers to send their products via air freight instead of by container ship? While ocean rates fell 7 percent from $3,106 per 40-foot container in Sept. to $2,881 in Oct., according to the Drewry Trans-Pacific Eastbound Freight Rate Index, air freight rates were soaring from $4.19 per kg to $4.90, an increase of 17 percent in just one month.

When the Nov. numbers come in, Drewry expects air freight rates will have continued rising as the shopping season picked up, while tighter capacity would have supported stronger pricing on certain trades. The backlog at U.S. west coast ports has the potential to soften the traditional drop in Asia-U.S. rates in Dec. and depending on how long the issue remains unresolved, could prop up air rates until Chinese New Year in February.

“Congestion on the U.S. West Coast ports is a costly reminder to shippers of the need for risk planning, particularly in peak seasons. The issue will help to inflate air rates and demand temporarily, but it will not reverse the longer-term trend towards ocean,” Dreary’s weekly report noted.

World air cargo growth has for a number of years lagged behind container shipping growth due to a combination of factors, including higher demand for commodities that are typically shipped by ocean freight, faster growth at the low-value end of commodities such as T-shirts that reduces air cargo’s overall share, and the sea conversion of “mature” products, such as electrical machinery.

A study published earlier this year by Seabury, commissioned by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), revealed that air cargo volumes fell by as much as 15 million tonnes since the start of the century, with modal shift accounting for approximately one-third of that sum.

“The shift towards the much cheaper ocean freight mode has gathered momentum in recent years as shippers have developed more sophisticated IT systems and leaner inventory strategies,” Dreary said in its report. 

“A greater faith in container service reliability is often cited as another contributing factor, but this is possibly overplayed and almost certainly misplaced as the container industry has long struggled to deliver its promises. Drewry’s research shows that barely 60 percent of container ships arrived at port on the advertised day within a threshold of 24 hours in the third quarter.”

Drewry said the long-term trend from air to ocean transport was not expected to be reversed, but supply issues in the container sector, including poor reliability, rolled cargo, missed voyages in peak cargo months and port congestion could be starting to slow the modal shift. Recent numbers show that international air freight growth is starting to keep up with container traffic growth and even overtake it in certain months, Dreary noted.

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LA-Long Beach container ship backup reaches 2-year high

12 ships were anchored in San Pedro Bay on Tuesday morning waiting to berth. Source: Marine Exchange of Southern California

Twelve container ships were anchored in the waters off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this morning, the most waiting at one time in San Pedro Bay in two years, surpassing the previous record set on Oct. 26 as congestion continues to crush the largest container gateway in the Americas.

The queue dipped to eight on Monday, down from nine on Sunday but up from seven on Saturday and six on Friday, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Last week, the high was on Thursday, Nov. 6, with 10 ships at anchor in the afternoon.

Waiting for berths this morning were APL Holland, operated by APL; MSC Francesca and Navarino, operated by Mediterranean Shipping Co.; YM Efficiency and OOCL Kuala Lumpur, operated by OOCL (USA); Hammonia Roma, operated by Hapag-Lloyd; Hanjin Netherlands, operated by Hanjin; Ever Deluxe and Ever Learned, operated by Evergreen; Cap Corrientes, operated by Hamburg Süd; NYK Meteor, operated by NYK Line; and Shengking, operated by Interocean Steamship. Four of those ships were due to berth today, with another four set to arrive, the Marine Exchange said.

In the next three days, 19 container ships are scheduled to arrive; of those, 15 are due to berth and four are set to anchor.

There’s usually zero wait times for container ships at Los Angeles-Long Beach, according to Capt. J. Kipling Louttit, executive director of the Marine Exchange of California, a sign that congestion remains a serious problem at the port complex.

The Marine Exchange has been providing with daily updates on container ships anchored in San Pedro Bay since the end of October.

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And the Winner is...

Congratulations to Donna Socha, GMS - Vice President, Client Services at Sibcy Cline Relocation Services!  Donna is the winner of the #75 Devon Still Bengals jersey that Champion International Moving raffled off in an effort to support pediatric cancer research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center.

Thank you to everyone who participated in our drawing.  

Please read more about Devon Still, Leah and the donation to the hospital:

Here's what Cincinnati Children's will do with $1.3M from Devon Still jersey sales

Nov 7, 2014, 11:10am EST

The nearly 15,000 football jerseys ordered by people who rallied to support Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Devon Still and his daughter Leah, a 4-year-old battling cancer, resulted in a $1.3 million donation to Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. A check was given to Michael Fisher, CEO of the hospital in Avondale, during a break in Thursday night's nationally televised game against the Cleveland Browns.

Leah, who is being treated for neuroblastoma at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, attended the game at Paul Brown Stadium downtown and helped present the check. It reportedly was the first time she had ever watched in person as her dad played in the National Football League.

The Bengals lost, 24-3, but the money could eventually help researchers beat cancers that afflict kids.

"This donation from the Cincinnati Bengals is a significant one and will greatly improve our ability to conduct cutting-edge research on pediatric cancers such as neuroblastoma," said Dr. Brian Weiss, director of the neuroblastoma program at Cincinnati Children's.

The money will help researchers tackle complex, hard-to-treat cancers such as neuroblastoma, which affects the sympathetic nervous system. The donation will also help in research efforts involving DIPG brain cancer, the type affecting Lauren Hill, the Mount St. Joseph University basketball player who has raised public awareness of the disease.

Charity sales of Still's No. 75 jersey ended Oct. 20, with 14,945 ordered. Nike is still manufacturing jerseys, and the last of the current orders probably won't be delivered until December. The NFL reported the jersey is the 11th best-selling one in the nation. Production began in September, when Still was on the team's practice squad and Leah's story became known to the public.

"My job is to get my daughter's story out," Still said during a recent visit to Cincinnati Children's. "That's the easy part. You guys have the hard part. … You're the ones who give kids a chance at life."

The Bengals covered the production of the first 10,000 jerseys, which cost the team about $500,000. The full $100 sale price of those jerseys went to Cincinnati Children's. The Bengals also turned over all profits on sales of the rest of the jerseys to the hospital.

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UNITED STATES (Oct. 30, 2014) – Four states implement quarantines for certain travelers

Illinois, New York and New Jersey announced mandatory quarantine procedures last week for travelers arriving or returning to the United States from Ebola-stricken countries. California followed yesterday with quarantine protocols but stopped short of imposing a blanket rule.

The policies are in effect at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, Newark International Airport in New Jersey, O’Hare International Airport as well as all airports in California.

Anyone traveling from Guinea, Liberia or Seirra Leone who has had contact with someone confirmed to have Ebola – including health care workers and volunteers – are subject to a 21-day quarantine even if they exhibit no symptoms. The quarantine requires home isolation and providing temperature readings to state health officials. New York and New Jersey have made the quarantine mandatory. In Illinois, the quarantine is also mandatory, though officials carved out an exception for medical workers who followed appropriate protective measures. California, meantime, said it will consider quarantining on a case-by-case basis and only for those who have had contact with a person with a confirmed case of Ebola.

New York is also requiring that all individuals with a travel history to any of the three Ebola-stricken West African countries, regardless of whether they were in contact with an Ebola patient, be monitored by state officials, and if necessary, quarantined.

A nurse who was put under a mandatory 21-day quarantine by New Jersey after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone has criticized the isolation measures as having a chilling effect on health care workers. She has tested negative for Ebola and remains under quarantine. President Barack Obama has also spoken out against such quarantines that go beyond the federal response.

BAL Analysis: The four states are the first to announce quarantine protocols related to the Ebola outbreak. All travelers flying from the affected region should be prepared for the extra screening and quarantine measures.

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Champion looks to help sack pediatric cancer

On game day, Steelers’ fans and Bengals’ fans couldn’t be farther apart about who we support.

But off the field, those of us in Steelers’ Country are huge fans of the Bengals in their support of defensive tackle Devon Still, his courageous daughter Leah and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital.

Champion International Moving – based in the heart of Steelers’ Country - has purchased 2 Devon Still jerseys from the Bengals’ Pro Shop:  one to donate to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to be gifted to a patient and one which will be raffled off in an online drawing through our website

Per the hospital “All proceeds from Still jerseys ordered through the Bengals’ Pro Shop will benefit cancer research at Cincinnati Children’s.”

As of the Oct. 20th conclusion of the team’s Still jersey sale, 14,945 jerseys had been sold, raising over $1,250,000 for the hospital in support of pediatric cancer research.  Champion International Moving is incredibly proud to support this research.

*For your chance to win the #75 Devon Still Cincinnati Bengals jersey, please visit our website and enter your full name, company and email address – easy as that.  Your co-workers are invited to enter too, so please feel free to share the link with them*

The contest will begin on Tuesday, Oct. 28th at 12pm EST and will close on Friday, Nov. 7th at 4pm EST.  Winner will be chosen on Monday, Nov. 10th and will be notified via email.

To read more about Devon and Leah’s story

Champion will not intentionally sell, share, or distribute your personal information to third parties.

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UNITED STATES (Oct. 23, 2014) – US imposes 21-day monitoring of travelers from Ebola-affected countries

Travelers from three West African nations hit by the Ebola outbreak will be required to report their temperatures and other health conditions every day for a three-week period after arriving in the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday. The CDC program is designed to identify people with symptoms of Ebola to reduce chances that the virus will spread.

The CDC's move follows an announcement earlier this week that the Department of Homeland Security will require all travelers flying from any of the three countries – Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – to enter the U.S. only via one of five airports set up for enhanced health screening.

The CDC monitoring will cover everyone whose travels originate from the three West African countries, regardless of nationality.

The program will be launched Oct. 27 in six states that the CDC says receive 70 percent of the travelers in question – Georgia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. It will be rolled out soon in other states where travelers from the three countries are residing, the CDC said.

Travelers entering the U.S. from the three countries will be required to:

  • Provide telephone numbers, addresses, email addresses and other contact information so that officials can keep tabs on their whereabouts.

  • Report daily to state or local authorities on their temperature as well as the presence or absence of possible Ebola symptoms such as headaches, muscle pain, vomiting and diarrhea, among others.

  • Self-monitor using a CARE (Check And Report Ebola) kit they will be given to help them identify and log possible symptoms.

If travelers do not report their conditions as required, state or local officials will attempt to locate them to resume daily monitoring.

The monitoring will continue for 21 days following a traveler's arrival from one of the Ebola-affected countries. Twenty-one days is the longest it can take for a person infected with Ebola to begin showing symptoms.

"The bottom line here is that we have to keep up our guard against Ebola," said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a teleconference with reporters.

BAL Analysis: Travelers of all nationalities flying to the U.S. from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone should prepare for daily post-travel monitoring upon arrival.

- Berry Appleman & Leiden LLP

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Hamburg Süd takes steps to combat LA-LB congestion

Oct 22, 2014 9:40AM EDT

Hamburg Süd said it has taken steps to combat significant delays in vessel arrivals and departures at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach as severe congestion at the largest port complex in the Americas has reached a new level of intensity.

In a customer advisory obtained by, Hamburg Süd said schedule reliability in its Australia/New Zealand service in particular has “suffered greatly” from the dire state of congestion in Southern California, resulting in vessel departure delays of three to eight days since early September. For example, the ANL Bindaree, voyage 407, was scheduled to depart from Long Beach on Oct. 19, but is now estimated to depart on Oct. 27.

To counteract the “generally very poor” operational performance at Long Beach, the carrier said it is operating vessels at top speed on the southbound run from the port to New Zealand and Australia to make up for the departure delays.  

But even with congestion so bad at Long Beach, Hamburg Süd said it still transferred four of its services from Los Angeles to Long Beach to minimize delays. The container line has also granted extra free time for import cargo at both ports.

According to an exclusive report obtained by today, container ships are backed up for days waiting for a berth off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Reasons for the delays include the fact that ships in the trans-Pacific trade are getting consistently larger, requiring longer times at berth, as well as a shortage of chassis and drayage drivers, and more recently slowdowns by members of the ILWU. Container volume is also relatively high.

“A number of factors, such as an acute shortage of truck power, lack of sufficient chassis and an increase of volumes have contributed to a poor operational performance,” Hamburg Süd said in the advisory. “The short-term outlook for Southern California ports is not positive and we recommend to our customers to allow for longer delivery times.”

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Flight Cancellations, Airport Chaos Triggered By Lufthansa Pilots Strike


The Lufthansa pilots strike this week had been feared to become one of the most disruptive actions in the history of the airline and on Day 2 it seems to be living up to the predictions.

So far, more than 1,500 flights have been cancelled, including most of Lufthansa’s flights at Frankfurt, Germany’s biggest airport, and at least half the flights at Munich and Hamburg , affecting hundreds of thousands of passengers and causing chaos throughout the company’s global network.

As the company failed on Tuesday in a court bid to force its pilots to call off the strike, the Vereinigung Cockpit (VC) Union threatened to extend their action beyond the initial deadline fixed for Tuesday at midnight.

“We explicitly do not rule out further strikes this week if Lufthansa doesn’t budge,” a VC representative said.

The union originally called for a 35-hour strike on Monday starting at 1 pm, cancelling some 1,500 short- and medium-haul national flights. Now that action has been extended to intercontinental long-haul flights.

VC, which represents about 5,400 Lufthansa pilots, is mainly protesting Lufthansa’s decision to raise the minimum retirement age from 55 to 60.

The company has offered to retain the current scheme for existing members but not to extend it to new members. The union wants the airline’s new pilots to retain the option of retiring at 55 for a portion of their salary.

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Lufthansa has posted information on affected flights.

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2014 Worldwide ERC in Chicago

ERC 2014

Mike, Kristen and Jason participated in the 2014 Global Workforce Symposium in Chicago from Oct. 7-10.  The always popular and sought-after Champion t-shirts were very well-received, as was the drawing for the Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker.

Thank you to the sales group for once again proudly representing Champion at this event.

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'Tedious' ILWU inspections contributing to LA-Long Beach congestion

Oct 09, 2014 7:13PM EDT

Dockworkers in Los Angeles-Long Beach are making the already terrible congestion problems at marine terminals insufferable by pulling trucks over and requiring inspections that reportedly go far beyond the normal safety procedures.

International Longshore and Warehouse Union mechanics on the Wednesday night shift reportedly targeted several terminals, requiring additional steps in the normal safety inspections that they perform on trucks and chassis as they exit the facilities.

“Our sources are telling us the ILWU is purposely slowing down operations,” said Eric Sauer, vice president of policy and government relations at the California Trucking Association.

While such actions would be disruptive under any circumstances at the busiest U.S. port complex, they are especially damaging at this time because the ports have already been reeling from terminal congestion caused by strong cargo volumes, severe chassis dislocations and tardy intermodal rail service.

Here is how one trucking company executive described what took place Wednesday night at the out-gate of a particular terminal:  “Drivers are required to follow some new and additional steps after transiting basic roadabiliy stop. Drivers are now also required to make a secondary stop where drivers are asked to turn off their truck, step down from their truck, step away from the truck as mechanics inspect the truck, container and chassis before letting the driver leave. As you can imagine, this is a very tedious process and has congested the terminals,” the executive said in an e-mail.

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Congestion worsens at LA-LB port complex with no relief in sight

Oct 06, 2014 5:44PM EDT

Port of Los Angeles

Congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach grew worse over the weekend, with no relief in sight as late peak-season container volumes descend on the largest U.S. port complex.

“The vessels keep arriving and the trucks keep arriving,” said John Cushing, president of PierPass Inc., which manages the extended gates program for the 13 container terminals in the port complex.

Cushing said terminal operators are spending millions of dollars and taking extraordinary steps, including running very costly “hoot owl” shifts from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. to relieve congestion in their container yards. But the cargo keeps building up at the terminals. According to the individual ports, combined container throughput in 2014 through August at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are 4.5 percent higher than the same period in 2013.

Each terminal operator has a slightly different story to tell. Some terminals say the congestion ebbs and flows depending upon chassis availability. A terminal will get enough chassis for several consecutive days to clean out its yard, but then the equipment supply dries up and the terminal is congested again.

“There are times when the imports are not moving. The numbers are outrageous —6,000 to 7,000 containers just sitting at the terminals,” he said.

Another terminal operator said he is working only two cranes each week against a vessel with a capacity of 10,000 20-foot containers, rather than five cranes as he should be, because the yard can not absorb any more boxes. Vessel operations are slowing down to the point where some terminals are in danger of having to tell vessel operators to slow down their arrivals because the ships can not be handled on schedule.

Large North American gateways such as Los Angeles-Long Beach, New York-New Jersey and Vancouver, Canada, have been struggling with congestion problems on and off throughout the year. The ripple effect of brutal winter weather in the eastern half of the continent, congestion and rail car shortages on the rail networks, truck and driver shortages and chassis dislocations are well documented.

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ERC Conference 2014

ER Postcard Front

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Port of Los Angeles to resume full operations following fire [Updated]

JOC Staff | Sep 23, 2014 12:13PM EDT

[Editor’s note: Updated on 9/23/2014 at 8:50 p.m. Eastern time to include a new tweet from Los Angeles regarding the fire, and new information about terminals shut down at Long Beach.]

Terminals at the Port of Los Angeles reopened as of 9 p.m. on Tuesday after being closed for several hours because of a fire at a breakbulk terminal.

The port had been closed along with its container terminals, as well as the Alameda Corridor rail route, as a result of air quality concerns resulting from toxic fumes billowing from a lumber fire at the Pasha breakbulk terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. Three container terminals at Long Beach ― TTI at Pier T, serving Hanjin Shipping; SSA Terminals at Pier A; and Long Beach Container Terminal at Pier F ― were also shut down for the day shift and had hoped to reopen on Tuesday at 6 p.m. for the night shift, though that was not confirmed.

In a tweet sent at roughly 8 p.m. Eastern time, the Port of Los Angeles said: "Port terminals plan to resume full operation at 6:00 p.m. Pasha will remain closed. Yusen reopens at 8 a.m. tomorrow."

The largest container port in the Americas had said earlier that it closed its terminals at 8:30 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday morning, citing “precautionary reasons due to air quality.” A welding torch apparently ignited World War II-era pylons soaked in creosote at the Pasha breakbulk terminal, according to reports from the Associated Press and Los Angeles Times. No injuries have been reported from the fire that began around 6:40 a.m.

At 4:29 p.m. Eastern time on Tuesday, the Port of Los Angeles said in a tweet that the fire was 90 percent contained.

“We expect to be operating most of the terminals, if not all of them, by tomorrow morning,” port spokesman Phillip Sanfield told ABC 7 News earlier in the day.

The Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority told that rail traffic has been open and moving all day, but access to those marine terminals that were closed had been denied, impacting rail traffic along the corridor.

Two cargo vessels were evacuated from the port not because they were in danger but for precautionary reasons, Los Angeles Fire Department Capt. Jamie Moore told ABC News.

“We moved those two cargo ships out to anchorage just so our firefighters could get in there and those cargo ships wouldn't be impacting their operation,” Moore said.

A Long Beach spokesperson told that officials at the three closed container terminals would reassess the situation Tuesday afternoon to decide whether to open for the night shift, depending on if the fire and smoke from Los Angeles has stopped.

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European countries tightening enforcement on expiring passports

Sept. 18, 2014


What is the change? A number of European nations in the 26-country Schengen Area are growing increasingly strict about a requirement that foreign passports be valid at least 90 days past a traveler’s intended date of departure.

What does the change mean? Tourists and business travelers with less than six months remaining on their passports beyond intended travel dates should consider renewing their passports as soon as possible.

  • Implementation timeframe: Ongoing.

  • Visas/permits affected: Passports. 

  • Who is affected: United States and other non-European nationals.

  • Impact on processing times: Seasonal demand for new passports during peak holiday times could cause delays.

  • Business impact: Visa-free business travelers should make sure they have at least six months on their passports upon their date of arrival in Schengen Area countries.

  • Next steps: The U.S. State Department recommends that travelers in need of new passports renew them immediately in order to avoid delays associated with increased demand around the Thanksgiving holiday.

Background: Non-European nationals (third-country nationals) are permitted to visit Schengen Area countries for 90 days within a 180-day period. Because of a rule requiring that passports be valid at least 90 days past a traveler’s intended date of departure, travelers must have at least six months of validity remaining on their passports on their date of arrival. The U.S. State Department reported Sept. 5 that the requirement “has been more strictly enforced” recently, sometimes resulting in travelers being denied airline boarding or entry upon arrival.

BAL Analysis: The tighter enforcement is not the result of any new rule or regulation, and enforcement levels vary from country to country within the Schengen Area. Non-European nationals planning visa-free travel for either tourist or business purposes within the Schengen Area should make sure they will have at least six months remaining on their passport upon arrival. Some Schengen countries also apply the rule to travelers transiting through an airport for several hours to a non-Schengen destination. Travelers who require a new passport should apply immediately to avoid delays. 

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group

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Manila truck ban lifted; cargo community welcomes development

Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada announced on Saturday the lifting of the Manila truck ban, blamed by many as the cause of port congestion.

The cargo community collectively heaved a sigh of relief but doused cold water on hopes that the port mess will immediately be untangled. All industry executives reached by PortCalls noted it would take many more months to undo the negative effects of the congestion.

At a televised press conference Estrada said the ban will be lifted indefinitely starting noon of Sept 13.

“I am avoiding the conflict kaya (that’s why) we withdraw and let the national government take over,” he said.

Earlier, Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras, head of the Cabinet Cluster on Port Congestion, said government was looking at asking for emergency powers for President Aquino to lift the Manila truck ban to resolve port congestion.

Asked how the lifting of the ban will affect port decongestion efforts, Christian Gonzalez, head of Asia Region at International Container Terminal Services, Inc, operator of the Manila International Container Terminal, told PortCalls in an email: “It’s going to take months still (to decongest) but we will be able to shorten it as much as possible with everyone working together (operators, truckers, and cargo owners). The first step will be officially convening a task force meeting with all the parties including MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) and we will probably make someone completely in charge of coordinating activities until this is solved. Even competitors (all sectors) will have to share information and work together. All other actions will be determined during the meeting.”

Philippine International Seafreight Forwarders Association (PISFA) president Mariz Regis welcomed the lifting of the ban.

“But decongestion won’t happen overnight,” she told PortCalls, adding it’s hard to say when ports will finally be declogged. “Let’s see how things turn out in the first week.”

Regis said “government and various stakeholders must continue to work together” to clear the mess at the ports.

“This is a wake-up call for the country to put in place a roadmap for transport and logistics. We definitely need medium and long-term plans for the sector,” Regis said.

PISFA director Erich Lingad said a return to normalcy at the ports may happen only next year because cargo volumes are now on the rise due to the peak shipping season.

Atty Max Cruz, general manager of the Association of International Shipping Lines, for his part said the lifting of the ban is “good news for the country. But the effects… cannot be felt immediately considering the destructive mess it (ban) has created for business and the supply chain. The lifting of the ban is only the first step on the road to normalcy. It will take a couple of months before things normalize.”

Confederation of Truckers Association of the Philippines president Ruperto Bayocot said the lifting of the ban will normalize port operations “earlier than expected” or within two to four months.

The Department of Trade and Industry has earlier said decongestion will only be achieved by early 2015.

Bayocot told PortCalls he also hopes truck turnaround will now be “four to five times a week from the current three to four a week.”

Sleep-deprived truck drivers perpetually stuck in traffic, he said, can also now “get more sleep”.

Integrated North Harbor Truckers Association (INHTA) president Teodorico Gervacio in a phone interview said they are still waiting for a copy of the order before taking any action.

In addition, the association is also watching out for directives from government, considering there are still many truck-related ordinances currently being imposed by other agencies and local government units.

While the lifting of the truck ban will mean roads closed to trucks will now be opened such as Quirino, Nagtahan, Kapulong, and Sta. Mesa, it will also mean the closure of Roxas Boulevard to trucks, as was the situation pre-Manila truck ban, Gervacio pointed out.

Arnel Gamboa, president of the Supply Chain Management Association of the Philippines, said the lifting of the ban will not translate to “major improvements as the difference (the order brings) is only a few hours (in truck operating) window. The move may be more political in nature than actually bringing the right solution. We need to actually lift the truck ban completely (in Metro Manila or) at least (adopt a) moratorium this peak season to help catch up with backlogs.

“The situation is more serious (and requires a greater solution) than just reverting to the old (MMDA) truck ban scheme. We can’t undo the mess that has unfolded.”

MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino in a statement on the agency’s Facebook account said, “I thank the good Mayor of Manila for his concern in trying to find solutions to decongest the port of Manila. As we revert back to the pre-Manila ordinance situation, I am confident that with the help of all concerned private and government stakeholders, a sustainable solution will be crafted. I will immediately convene the Metro Manila Mayors Special Traffic Committee to craft a responsive scheme that will incorporate the City of Manila’s efforts with that of the national government.”

The controversial truck ban policy, enforced in late February, has caused massive congestion at Manila ports and spawned such problems as pileup of containers, international shipping lines skipping Manila ports due to lack of container space, traffic gridlocks in the metro, and huge losses for businesses due to production delays and unmet delivery commitments.

The ban has translated to higher truck rates of as much as 300%; adoption of port congestion surcharges, among other types of surcharges; and ultimately increased prices of goods. The Bureau of Customs also saw its revenue collection dip in the first month that the ban was implemented.

Also a month into the implementation of the ban, US banking giant Citigroup came out with a study that said the ensuing transportation bottleneck could pare at least 1% to as much as 5% off the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), mostly affecting non-technology export commodities.

The GDP costs were estimated to be as low as P61.2 billion to as high as P320 billion, dwarfing the potential benefits of P30 billion in real terms from the reduced traffic envisioned by the truck ban.

With government and the private sector scrambling to deal with the myriad problems brought on by the Manila truck ban, all kinds of measures have been implemented. These include the adoption of the 24/7 express trade lanes, the last mile route, forcible transfer of overstaying Customs-cleared cargoes to Subic and Batangas ports, and higher storage fees for overstaying cargoes.

The fate of these measures is unclear now that the ban has been lifted.

The Manila truck ban has, however, stirred up activity at the underutilized Subic and Batangas ports, with shippers looking for a way to ship their cargoes without going through Manila ports.

Container traffic at Subic Bay’s New Container Terminal 1 surged 243.7% in August to 8,770.25 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), the highest monthly volume this year, from 2,551.75 TEUs posted in August 2013. This brings throughput for the first eight months of the year to 34,746.25 TEUs, up 54.58% from 22,437.75 TEUs year-on-year.

The eight-month volume is just 0.3% or 100.75 TEUs shy of the 34,847 TEUs full-year volume recorded in 2013.

Asian Terminals Inc, which operates Batangas Container Terminal, reported a 254% increase in container throughput at the terminal in the second quarter of the year. The volume in the first half of the year has already surpassed the volume handled for the entire 2013.

PortCalls sources said the Manila congestion has reached Batangas port, with payment for arrastre services now taking two to three hours. There are also reports of container equipment not working properly and the lack of truck operators in the area.


Anamarie G. Franco
Licensed Customs Broker

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GLOBAL: Muslim holiday will delay processing in many countries

What is the change? Around the beginning of October, countries with majority or large Muslim populations across the Middle East, Africa and Asia will shut down for periods ranging from two to nine days in observance of Eid al-Adha.

What does the change mean? Companies and foreign nationals seeking government services should submit applications now to avoid delays caused by the holiday break.

  • Implementation timeframe: Approximately Oct. 5-9, dates to be confirmed.
  • Visas/permits affected: All work permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals applying for work permits, renewals and other immigration and labor-related services.
  • Impact on processing times: The break will cause a delay of up to one week, depending on local holiday schedules.
  • Next steps: Companies and applicants should factor the holiday period into business timelines and file as early as possible before the first week of October.

Background: Holiday schedules will vary by region and country. The United Arab Emirates announced its public sector will close approximately Oct. 5-9, although precise dates have not been announced.

Several countries in Asia, including Brunei, Malaysia and Singapore, where the holiday is also called Hari Raya Haji, have announced government closures on Oct. 6. India’s Foreigners Regional Registration Offices in Mumbai and Delhi will be closed Oct. 2-6.

Eid al-Adha, or “Feast of the Sacrifice,” is a Muslim holiday celebrating the end of the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca. It also commemorates the willingness of Abraham (Ibrahim) to sacrifice his son Ismail in an act of obedience to God (Allah). Some countries do not confirm the exact dates until the lunar moon is sighted. The holiday, which falls on the 10th day of the lunar month, is expected to fall on Oct. 4 or 5. Other countries use astronomical calculations and fix the date in advance.

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Chassis shortage could lead to gridlock at LA-LB, terminals warn

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor | Sep 12, 2014 5:13PM EDT

When APL earlier this week informed customers that the APL Norway was being diverted from Los Angeles “due to congestion at Global Gateway South,” it caused shippers that use the Los Angeles-Long Beach gateway to cringe. Would other terminals at the nation’s largest port complex plunge into another round of congestion?

The immediate answer is no, but terminal operators say there is another problem, a chassis shortage that hasplagued the port complex all year since shipping lines divested themselves of chassis. It continues to get worse and could lead to portwide gridlock if it is not addressed quickly and aggressively, terminals say. 

The APL vessel was diverted to Mexico and the imports will be picked up on a subsequent voyage and delivered to Los Angeles. APL on Friday referred all inquiries to its headquarters in Singapore. However, when APL in July first encountered serious congestion issues, a spokesman said the genesis of the problem was the necessity to shift its operations from wheeled (storing containers on chassis) to grounded (stacking them on the ground).

APL for years was the darling of the harbor trucking industry in Southern California because its efficient wheeled operations produced relatively rapid turn times for drivers. APL was forced to shift to a grounded operation when the G6 carrier alliance, of which APL is a member, began sending more ships to the terminal. APL’s volume increased overnight from 15,000 container lifts per week to more than 22,000.

Although APL two months ago responded to its congestion problem by securing more cargo-handling equipment for the yard operations and initiating an appointment system for truckers, the relief was only temporary. Cargo volumes at the APL terminal and at the entire port complex remain unusually strong, despite longshore contract negotiations that have continued well beyond the July 1 expiration of the previous agreement and many importers have diverted cargo to East Coast ports.

According to PIERS, the data division of the JOC Group, imports on the West Coast year-to-date to August are up 6.2 percent. Imports to the East Coast increased 6.4 percent and to the Gulf Coast 6.8 percent.

The fact that import volumes are not letting up substantially has the shipper and marine terminal industries in Southern California concerned. A chassis shortage — some say dislocation — has been festering in Los Angeles-Long Beach all year, and high import volumes are compounding the problem.

This is a problem that New York-New Jersey, the second-largest U.S. port complex, also faces. Most carriers in recent years have struggled financially, and one of their strategies to return to profitability is to shed assets, including chassis. Carriers have sold their chassis to equipment leasing companies at many ports and inland locations the past few years, and this year they have done so at the top two trade gateways.

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Air to ocean shift may be slowing as economy improves

JOC Staff | Sep 05, 2014 3:21PM EDT

A long-term shift from air to ocean freight by shippers looking to cut transport costs and willing to tolerate longer transit times may be slowing as economic conditions improve, according to recent comments from transportation executives.

“I think we saw the bulk of the movement in the past several years when the fuel prices really spiked and people looked for ways to avoid air freight,” Ed Feitzinger, executive vice president for global operations at forwarder UTi Worldwide, said in an earnings call on Sept. 4 transcribed by SeekingAlpha. “Many shippers who had used air freight as a primary mode began their experiment with other means of moving less expensively in order to lower their overall transportation spend.”

Now, he says, “I think the vast majority of that work has already occurred.”

Responding to that statement, analyst Matt Young of Morningstar, said, “So you would say the bulk of a lot of that is in the past.”

Others have made similar observations recently. “The movement of cargo from air to sea appears to have reached its limit, mainly because many shipping lines are maintaining super-slow-steaming to address high fuel costs,” said SS Teo, managing director of Singapore-based intra-Asia container line PIL.

Part of the reason for a slowdown in modal shift may be the improving economic climate, said David Ross, a Stifel Nicolaus investment analyst who covers transportation. "In a downturn, the pace of modal shift accelerates across the transport spectrum as shippers not focused on costs focus in a bigger way. When things pick up, sales are more important, and the quicker the acceleration of the recovery, the better for airfreight."

The shift from air to ocean, which has been barely noticeable among ocean carriers used to handling huge volumes, has hit the air freight industry hard. Seabury, a consultant, earlier this year said air freight’s share of total global containerized or unitized cargo transported declined from 3.1 percent in 2000 to 1.7 percent in 2013, with about one-third of the market share loss attributed to modal shift.

What has been most noticeable, the Seabury study said, was that even fashion items, electronics and and industrial parts shipments, which traditionally required fast transit times only available via air freight, have also experienced significant shifts from air to ocean freight, with trade lanes from Asia hit the hardest.


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Tight trans-Pacific capacity leads to rolling of cargo in Asia

Corianne Egan, Associate Editor | Aug 25, 2014 12:10PM EDT

Cargo is being rolled and space allocations are being cut on trans-Pacific eastbound services as capacity continues to tighten to the U.S. East Coast. Space to the U.S. West Coast is also extremely tight, shippers say, reflected in stronger volumes moving through West Coast ports.

Volumes jumped to the East Coast in July, and the spike has continued through August, partly due to peak-season shipments and diversion traffic as shippers sought to avoid potential labor-related disruptions on the West Coast. Ships are reportedly moving at, or very near to, full capacity to the East Coast.

Shippers in Asia say carriers are being selective about the cargo that makes it onto the trans-Pacific trek. Customers who pay higher prices, and whose cargo is therefore more lucrative for the carriers, are getting slots at the expense of those who pay lower contract rates. That is placing some shippers with contracts signed at lower rates than today’s spot rate at a disadvantage versus spot market shippers paying current rates.

“You’re stuck with ships of 7,000 and 8,000 TEUs to the East Coast for volumes you can’t even begin to envision,” a senior executive at a major container line told “Anyone operating in the trans-Pacific is not only sold out but they’re rolling cargo. That’s not good. That’s a bad business practice.”

So as not to antagonize business partners they depend on, many were unwilling to be identified when commenting on the subject. Non-vessel-operating common carriers fear being shut out of ships if they publicly criticize carriers. But several high-level, knowledgeable sources — carriers, 3PLs and shippers alike — have confirmed the rolling of cargo.

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*Latest Update - Information Regarding Ongoing Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) Performance Issues and Steps Taken

Consular Consolidated Database: Updates on Operational Status.

  • We have made significant progress and issued most of the worldwide backlog of nonimmigrant visa cases.  We are working to bring the Consular Consolidated Database back to full operational capacity.
  • We continue to prioritize immigrant visas, adoption cases, and emergency nonimmigrant visa cases.  We are printing visas for these cases AND ALL CASES with very few delays.
  • Please check with the embassy or consulate where you will apply for additional information.   

Courtesy of US Department of State

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Information Regarding Ongoing Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) Performance Issues and Steps Taken

from US Passports & International Travel - US Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs

The Consular Consolidated Database (CCD) is still performing below its normal operational capacity. However, to give you an idea of the progress we have made, since July 20, our embassies and consulates have printed close to 250,000 nonimmigrant visas globally. Based on our average production figures, we would have anticipated issuing closer to 480,000 nonimmigrant visas in that time period, indicating we have been able to print documents for just over half of all approved travelers.

It will take some weeks before we are back to normal turnaround times on issued visas.

We continue to prioritize immigrant visas, adoption cases, and emergency nonimmigrant visa cases. We are printing visas for these cases with very few delays.

Nearly all passports are being issued within our customer service standards, despite the system problems. We are issuing passports for emergency travel without delay.  

More details and FAQs

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Technical Glitch Clogs Up U.S. Visa System


A technical glitch has hampered the U.S.'s ability to issue visas around the globe, stranding thousands of foreign businesspeople, high-tech workers, performers and athletes trying to travel into the country.

The data-processing system experienced significant performance issues, including outages, between July 19 and July 23. The database was brought back online on July 23, but the system still isn't fully functional, according to the State Department. Experts estimate tens of thousands of visas are working their way through the pipeline.

U.S. Issues Travel Ban on Venezuela Officials
"This really is unprecedented," said Jonathan Ginsburg, a Fairfax, Va., immigration attorney. "Even one day's delay in visa issuances—especially on a systemic basis—creates an enormous backlog that, in turn, taxes the resources of each visa-issuing post because, of course, they're busy issuing visas every day." More than 200 U.S. consular posts world-wide issue a total of several thousand visas each day.

Mr. Ginsburg said he has clients waiting in Asia and Europe without any idea when they will be able to travel. Their passports are in the possession of U.S. consular authorities, he said.

Arek Nizamian, a Los Angeles attorney, said a Korean client approved for an investor visa had planned to be in California on Monday to close on the purchase of a business. Despite passing an interview at the consulate, he hadn't received his passport with the visa stamp.

"This is a disaster," said Mr. Nizamian. "The deal is in jeopardy." On Wednesday, he said, the client received an email saying that technical problems "are affecting operations globally" and that officials couldn't predict how long the delay will last.

The Consular Consolidated Database contains millions of visa files and photographs and links to other federal agency security databases, such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation's fingerprint-identification system. The State Department also runs facial recognition and name checks through the system. In 2013, the Bureau of Consular Affairs issued 9.1 million nonimmigrant visas and nearly 500,000 immigrant visas.


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Three largest US ports seek ways to resolve chassis crisis

Joseph Bonney and Bill Mongelluzzo | Jul 21, 2014 9:35AM EDT

The busiest container gateways on the U.S. East and West coasts are trying to bring order to the chaos of intermodal chassis. It won’t be quick or easy.

Chassis have emerged as a top obstacle to improved productivity at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and New York-New Jersey. Truckers waste time and money delivering a container at one terminal and a chassis somewhere else. Terminals frequently run short of chassis during busy periods. Out-of-service chassis and billing problems are constant headaches.

For five years, the industry has been scrambling to adjust to the changes ocean carriers unleashed when they transferred most of their chassis to leasing companies and quit providing customers with “free” equipment in a bundled service. Truckers or shippers now have primary responsibility for chassis, as always has been the case in other countries.

Ocean carriers’ disengagement from chassis has coincided with explosive growth in ship sizes and carrier alliances that have created unforeseen strains on the system. The industry has been adjusting on the fly, and dealing with a kaleidoscopic array of models for chassis supply.

“There is no one solution. If you ship across the country, you have to adjust to seven different models,” said Steve Rubin, a former CEO at Princeton, New Jersey-based chassis lessor TRAC Intermodal who has studied the industry closely. Rubin, principal at InterPro Advisory, this month was named interim CEO of Horizon Lines.

Some clarity is starting to emerge. Virginia created a centrally managed portwide pool that’s now in its third phase. The Ocean Carrier Equipment Management Association runs six regional co-op pools with 136,000 chassis at South Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific Northwest ports, and in inland regions.

Chassis supply is a tougher nut to crack at the largest U.S. port gateways — Southern California and New York-New Jersey. Each has a hodgepodge of chassis pools that don’t serve all terminals. The disjointed system is a cause and effect of wasted truck trips, slow equipment turnover and congested terminals.

“It’s a circular situation — chassis shortages cause delays at terminals, and delays at terminals cause chassis shortages,” said Tom Heimgartner, president of Best Transportation in Port Newark, New Jersey.

Port and industry leaders in Los Angeles-Long Beach and New York-New Jersey are stepping up efforts to develop neutral or “gray” pools that would allow chassis to be interchanged freely and possibly stored off-dock instead of at terminals.

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Typhoon Rammasun (Glenda) Leaves the Philippines; Warnings Issued for South China

Published: Jul 16, 2014, 7:20 AM EDT

Forecast Path

Deadly Typhoon Rammasun has its sights set on South China and northern Vietnam after ripping through the Philippines Tuesday and Wednesday. Even as the typhoon lashed the Philippine capital with wind and rain, Chinese authorities issued early warnings for its southernmost coastlines.

Typhoon Rammasun (also known as Glenda in the Philippines) made its first landfall in the Philippines Tuesday while intensifying. The typhoon is now churning across the South China Sea heading toward parts of China and Vietnam.

The worst of Rammasun's winds appear to have passed just south of the Philippine capital.

As of 5 a.m. EDT Wednesday in the U.S., maximum sustained winds had decreased to an estimated 90 mph, according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. This made Rammasun the equivalent of a Category 1 on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale.

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West Coast port labor talks resume today

Larry Thomas -- Furniture Today, July 11, 2014

LOS ANGELES — A strike by some truck drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach has added a bit of drama this week to contract talks between West Coast dockworkers and terminal operators, but reports indicate all West Coast ports are continuing to operate even though the dockworkers’ latest labor contract expired July 1.

Talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Assn. are scheduled to resume today following a three-day break to allow union officials to attend unrelated contract negotiations in the Pacific Northwest.

The truck drivers’ strike, which began Monday at four shipping terminals, briefly shut down the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports when ILWU members refused to cross the truckers’ picket lines. However, longshoremen returned to work after only a few hours off the job when an arbitrator ruled the dockworkers’ contract didn’t allow them to engage in a sympathy strike, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The truckers, who are not represented by the ILWU, claim they are illegally classified as independent contractors and not employees — a designation that means employers don’t have to pay Social Security taxes and unemployment insurance premiums for them, among other things.

Gene Winters, president of Global Link Logistics, said the truckers strike has not affected his company’s operations, but said the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports continue to be very congested because of increased shipments leading up to the ILWU contract expiration and a shortage of chassis.

“All carriers are experiencing chassis shortages at the port, and you can’t pick up a container without a chassis,” said Winters, whose company has numerous furniture industry customers.

The labor contract covers more than 14,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports. Both sides have pledged to continue talks without a work stoppage.

Article courtesy of 

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Striking LA-Long Beach port truckers return to work

Bill Mongelluzzo, Senior Editor | Jul 13, 2014 12:29PM EDT  

LONG BEACH, Calif. — The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach should be free of trucker picketing this week thanks to a deal brokered Saturday by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Garcetti convinced three harbor trucking companies and striking drivers at those companies to agree to a cooling-off period while the Los Angeles Harbor Commission investigates allegations regarding worker safety, poor working conditions and unfair labor practices.

The drivers, who are a minority of all of the drivers at Total Transportation Systems Inc., Green Fleet Services and Pac-9 Transportation, are attempting to affiliate with the Teamsters union. The Teamsters-affiliated group Justice for Port Truckers announced on July 7 that drivers had launched an “indefinite” strike in the harbor.

Retailers and other cargo interests are concerned because the trucker picketing took place while contract negotiations have been under way between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and he Pacific Maritime Association.

The ILWU and PMA failed to negotiate a new contract by the July 1 deadline, although both sides have issued statements saying negotiations would continue and cargo would keep moving through the Southern California port complex.

The truck driver picketing caused one short-lived disruption of cargo handling at the ports. The ILWU last week extended its previous contract for three days while negotiators traveled to the Pacific Northwest to participate in talks for a grain contract. That contract is unrelated to the coastwide contract negotiations involving longshoremen who handle containers at all of the major West Coast gateways.

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ILWU, employers agree to 72-hour break in talks

JOC Staff | Jul 07, 2014 11:15PM EDT

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and U.S. West Coast waterfront employers have agreed to take a 72-hour break from negotiations to allow the union to attend “an unrelated negotiation” in the Pacific Northwest.

The six-year contract, which expired July 1, was be extended during the break from 8 a.m. today and through Saturday, the ILWU and Pacific Maritime Association said in a terse statement released Monday night. The announcement comes hours after the Teamsters union protested outsides marine terminals at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex, raising fears, which proved unfounded yesterday, that protestors would erect picket lines and the longshore would refuse to cross the lines.

According to the statement: "The parties have agreed to take a 72-hour break from negotiations on a new coast-wide contract while the ILWU attends to an unrelated negotiation taking place in the Pacific Northwest. During this break, starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8, through 8 a.m. on Friday, July 11, the parties have agreed to extend the previous six-year contract, which expired last week. The PMA and ILWU are negotiating a new contract covering nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports."

Cargo operations at the busiest ports in the nation continued unimpeded yesterday despite Teamsters’ threats of an “indefinite strike” against three harbor trucking companies. The Teamsters protestors distributed flyers accusing harbor trucking companies of misclassifying drivers, but they didn’t block access to the terminals. 


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Port truck drivers picket harbor-area trucking companies

More than 120 truck drivers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports walked off the job Monday morning, organizers said, launching an indefinite protest against what they say are widespread workplace violations.

The picket lines are the largest demonstration yet against several regional truck companies that haul freight from the nation's largest port complex. Drivers argue they are improperly classified as independent contractors, leaving them with fewer workplace protections and lower pay than if they were company employees, protest organizers said.

Unlike previous protests, organizers haven't set an end date. Monday's picket lines, backed by Teamsters Local 848, target three harbor-area companies: Total Transportation Services Inc., Green Fleet Systems and Pacific 9 Transportation.

It is the fourth such protest in the last year. Drivers plan to picket at the firms' trucking yards and then follow the rigs to port terminals. The protests had not disrupted operations at the Port of Long Beach as of 8:30 a.m., a port spokesman said. At the Port of Los Angeles, operations were also unaffected as of 9 a.m., a spokesman said.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents employers, are negotiating a new agreement after a six-year deal at 29 West Coast ports expired July 1.

It wasn't immediately clear if dockworkers would honor Monday's picket lines. 

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Labor talks for U.S. West Coast ports to continue despite end of deal

LOS ANGELES Tue Jul 1, 2014 11:18pm EDT

(Reuters) - Labor negotiations between operators of West Coast port terminals and the union representing nearly 20,000 dock workers will continue, even though a six-year labor agreement expired on Tuesday, both sides said.

Labor talks at West Coast ports typically extend beyond the contract expiration date, but retailers had expressed nervousness at the impending expiration of the contract.

Officials from both the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the port employers, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents dock workers, have said they do not anticipate labor disruptions.

"While there will be no contract extension, cargo will keep moving and normal operations will continue at the ports until an agreement can be reached between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union," the two organizations said in a joint statement.

The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation in a recent report estimated a 10-day work stoppage at West Coast ports would cost the U.S. economy $2.1 billion a day and result in the loss of 169,000 jobs.

The talks involve 29 ports along the length of the U.S. West Coast, including major hubs in Los Angeles and Long Beach in Southern California and Seattle and Tacoma in Washington state.

Key issues in the talks have included rising healthcare costs and the use of outside contract labor.

Article from Reuters


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Threat of Costly West Coast Port Shutdown Spurs Pay Talks

Jul 1, 2014 12:42 AM ET

Twelve years after a labor dispute closed West Coast ports and cost the U.S. economy $1 billion a day, negotiators on both sides want to avoid a repeat that could be twice as expensive.

Talks between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association may go on for weeks without any disruption after the contract for about 20,000 dockworkers at 29 ports expires today at 5 p.m. Pacific time. A strike or lockout at ports whose operations contribute to 12.5 percent of gross domestic product would be a blow to the economy and could be a public relations disaster for a union whose members earn from $25 to $40 an hour. 

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Labour Disruption At West Coast Ports, Retailers Worried as Economy On Stake

Canada’s biggest port was slowed to a crawl when truck drivers went on strike for 28 days in March and union spokesman Gavin McGarrigle said they are now having difficulties getting trucking companies to comply with measures in the resolution.

However it’s not just the Canadian ports facing the heat. A new study from the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and National Retail Federation (NRF) in the US by economists at the Interindustry Forecasting Project at the University of Maryland brought under the spotlight the economic harm that could result from a labour disruption at US ports.

The west coast ports are America’s gateway for hundreds of billions of dollars of trade with Asia and beyond and are also under the influence of labor unrest and even violence.

As negotiations continue for a new contract agreement covering 13,600 dockworkers at 30 ports stretching from San Diego, Calif., to Bellingham, Wash., the study shows the U.S. economy could lose as much as $2.5 billion a day if a prolonged West Coast port shutdown occurs.

The current labor contract between the International Longshore and Warehouse Association Union (ILWU) and port operators along the U.S. West Coast is set to expire on June 30, 2014.

“A protracted dispute between the negotiating parties could lead to reduced or shuttered terminal operations for an extended period,” the study warned. “If such disruptions occur, the economic impact would be significant and widespread.”

Full article from Wall Street OTC

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Billions at risk as West Coast port contract ends

Associated Press

The West Coast ports that are America's gateway for hundreds of billions of dollars of trade with Asia and beyond are no stranger to labor unrest and even violence.

Now, the contract that covers nearly 20,000 dockworkers is set to expire, and businesses that trade in everything from apples to iPhones are worried about disruptions just as the crush of cargo for the back-to-school and holiday seasons begins.

With contentious issues including benefits and job security on the table, smooth sailing is no guarantee.

On one side is the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with its tradition of fierce activism dating to the Great Depression, when two of its members were killed during a strike. On the other is the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents shipping lines and operators of terminals at 29 West Coast ports.

Both acknowledge that they are unlikely to agree on a new contract before the current one expires June 30, but they plan to negotiate past that deadline. That would fit the pattern from contract talks in 2008 and 2002. In 2002, negotiators didn't reach an agreement until around Thanksgiving, following an impasse that led to a 10-day lockout and a big disruption in trade.

The union's total control over the labor pool means huge bargaining leverage, which negotiators have parlayed into white-collar wages and perks for blue-collar work. A full-time longshoreman earns about $130,000 a year, while foremen earn about $210,000, according to employer data. Workers pay nearly nothing for health coverage that includes no premiums and $1 prescriptions.

Neither side has publicly discussed progress on negotiations that began May 12 in San Francisco, which is headquarters to the union and the maritime association.


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U.S. expats find their money is no longer welcome at the bank

By Geoff Williams

(Reuters) - Imagine being excluded from the financial services industry because of your passport.

That happened to Carrie Walczak, an American living in Germany, in May. She received a letter from Deutsche Bank [DBKGSG.UL] informing her that her bank account was going to be closed because she is an American.

Walczak, a 37-year-old from upstate New York, lived in Brussels for seven years with her Belgian husband before moving to Bad Homburg, Germany, where she has resided for the past 18 months. Walczak says the letter informed her of new tax regulations required by the U.S. government, and because of that she is being dropped as a customer.

She says that a second bank account, from a financial institution based in Brussels, remains open -- but only because she signed two documents allowing the bank to disclose all of her banking information to the IRS. She has a third bank, based in Germany, which hasn't sent any letters to her.

"So that seems safe for now," Walczak says, admitting that she is rattled. "The problem is that to get paid and to have a normal life, one does need a bank account. If eventually other or all banks follow Deutsche Bank's lead, it could make my life very difficult."

Not to mention for all American expats, who number between 5 million and 6 million. In 2010, the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) became law in the United States, making it harder for American taxpayers to hide assets. 

Foreign banks and other financial institutions are required to give information to the Internal Revenue Service about Americans' accounts worth more than $50,000. There is a slight reprieve - in 2014 and 2015 the law is in a "transitional period," with the IRS not taking punitive measures if a bank appears to be making a good-faith effort to comply.

Many of the account-closing complaints are coming from Americans living in Switzerland, according to David McKeegan, co-founder of Greenback Expat Tax Services, headquartered in Hong Kong.

That is due to Switzerland's banking troubles in recent years. In 2009, UBS paid a $780 million fine to the IRS for helping American taxpayers hide money abroad. In May, Credit Suisse was fined $1.2 billion for similar charges.

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Dockworker strike in Brazil postponed

| Jun 10, 2014 11:17AM EDT

A nationwide dockworker strike planned to begin today in Brazil has been postponed, according to maritime service provider Inchcape Shipping Services.

Inchcape’s local Brazil office received notification from the Union of Shipping Companies that the stevedores’ strike, organized by the Union of Stevedores, has been postponed until June 27 at 10 a.m. local time, after the federal government agreed to discuss the workers’ list of demands.

The strike is expected to affect stevedore operations in all ports across Brazil for an indefinite period and is predicted to cause considerable delays with cargo operations unless a resolution can be reached with the Brazilian government, ISS said.

A source previously speculated that the stevedores would begin striking on June 10 to take advantage of the opportunity to attract worldwide attention, as the FIFA World Cup is set to begin two days later on June 12. With the strike now potentially set to begin June 27, the workers may still attract worldwide attention, as the games are scheduled to conclude on July 13. The source said the strike is likely not directly associated with the ongoing public demonstrations against the World Cup, but rather associated with general labor issues in Brazil.


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Dockworkers plan June 10 start to strike in Brazil

| Jun 06, 2014 1:55PM EDT        

A nationwide dockworker strike is planned to begin on June 10 in Brazil, according to maritime services provider Inchcape Shipping Services.

The strike, organized by the Union of Stevedores, is expected to affect stevedore operations in all ports across Brazil for an indefinite period and is predicted to cause considerable delays with cargo operations unless an early resolution can be reached with the Brazilian government, ISS said.

A source speculated that the stevedores will begin striking on June 10 to take advantage of the opportunity to attract worldwide attention, as the FIFA World Cup is set to begin two days later on June 12. The source said the strike is likely not directly associated with the ongoing public demonstrations against the World Cup, but rather associated with general labor issues in Brazil.

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Carriers Ready Surcharges in Case of US West Coast Disruptions

Hapag-Lloyd at the weekend informed its customers that it will be prepared to levy what could be large congestion surcharges on shipments to and from the United States in the event that work stoppages occur during West Coast longshore contract negotiations this summer.

Negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association are scheduled to begin on May 12. The current contract will expire on July 1. Hapag-Lloyd stated in a release that it will be prepared to implement a congestion surcharge beginning June 10, if conditions at North American ports generate additional costs for its operations.

Hapag-Lloyd is one of at least 12 carriers that have filed their tentative plans for congestion surcharges with the Federal Maritime Commission, said Niels Erich, a spokesman for the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement. Two additional carriers have indicated they will also file congestion surcharges, Erich said today.

Full article from the Journal of Commerce can be found at

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Contract Negotiations on the Waterfront Worry Many About Shipping Season

Ship early and ship often. That’s the advice logistics experts are giving to apparel and textile importers who don’t want to be caught up in a possible strike that could take place this summer at West Coast ports.

Negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents 13,600 registered workers at West Coast ports, and the Pacific Maritime Association, whose 72 members include shipping lines and terminal operators, rev up on May 12 in San Francisco.

The current six-year contract expires on July 1, but few believe the negotiations will be wrapped up by June 30. In the past, it has taken weeks after the deadline to come up with an agreement, and this always puts importers and exporters on edge.

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Chile Earthquake: Deadly Magnitude-8.2 Temblor Rocks Coast

massive earthquake struck off the coast of Chile late Tuesday killing at least six people, triggering a six-foot tsunami and sending 900,000 fleeing to "safe zones."

The magnitude-8.2 temblor struck roughly 62 miles northwest of the port city of Iquique and was shallow at 12.5 miles below the seabed, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

A tsunami advisory was issued for Hawaii. Officials warned that "dangerous ocean currents" and "weird tides" were likely until around 8 a.m. local time on Wednesday (2 p.m. ET). "Thankfully there is no destructive tsunami," Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell told NBC station KHNL.

The tremors triggered landslides that blocked roads, knocked out power for thousands, damaged an airport and caused fires that destroyed several businesses.

Most of the victims were killed by falling debris or heart attacks, Interior Minister Rodrigo Penailillo said.

President Michelle Bachelet declared a state of emergency in the region and said the extent of damage couldn't be fully assessed before daybreak.

Psychiatrist Ricardo Yevenes said he was with a patient when the magnitude-8.2 quake hit. "It quickly began to move the entire office, things were falling," he told local television. "Almost the whole city is in darkness."

Photos showed Chileans calmly evacuating coastal areas on foot, with police officers helping bundled-up elderly people and some residents loading up vehicles with their belongings.

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Draymen Face chassis shortage in NY, NJ

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

By Chris Dupin
The Port of New York and New Jersey is being severely impacted by a shortage of chassis needed to deliver and pick up containers at marine terminals, according to drayage companies and forwarders/custom house brokers.
“There are no chassis available in the Port of New York,” said Jeff Bader, the president of Golden Carriers and president of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers, a group that represents port truckers.
“Everyone’s hoarding chassis, which they have to do in order to do their business. We're not going into a terminal unless we have a chassis to make a pick-up,” he said.
“I'm getting calls from people I haven't gotten calls from in years, asking me for help to move freight. It's the perfect storm as they keep saying. There's not enough chassis, not enough labor. Everyone that's available to work is working. And if I had 10 more trucks, we'd put them on, too."
The port, like others around the country, has been severely impacted by winter weather and a dispute with the Waterfront Commission for New York Harbor about the hiring of additional workers, including workers who repair and maintain chassis.
Steve Schulein, a director at National Retail Systems, said that at a meeting of the bi-state association, “the majority of the truckers there were really up in arms about the condition and the lack of chassis."
He said representatives from two chassis leasing companies at the meeting said there was a shortage of equipment and said they are making an effort to re-position chassis, but that there is a lack of maintenance workers to repair the equipment.
Schulein said there has been an improvement in the turn times at terminals, where most drivers are able to get in and out of the terminals in about four or four-and-a-half hours, including waiting time outside of the terminal. Some are able to make a turn in three hours, whereas last month, some truckers were reportedly waiting much longer.
“The chassis, in a nutshell, are one of the biggest issues we have,” he said.
Charles Riley, vice president at Steer Company and president of the New York/New Jersey Foreign Freight Forwarders and Brokers Association, said the shortage “does have a big effect” on importers, as some truckers are only able to get one move in a day at the terminals.

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Last Impressions Count too…

-Caroline Cooper, from Customer Experience Magazine

We’re all familiar with the sayings about a first impression: a first impression is a lasting impression, you never get a second chance to make a first impression, you only get one chance to make a first impression, you will form a lasting impression within the first seconds, etc. So does that mean if you make a great first impression that’s all you need to do?

We sometimes put so much energy into a positive first impression that we then forget all about the lasting impression. What is the impression that stays with your customers when they leave your businesses or complete their transaction?

What will be the lasting memory that stays with them when they’re thinking about buying or booking again, telling their friends or colleagues, or telling the world on social media or review sites about their experience?

When I’m working within a business reviewing the customer experience I always ask them to imagine the conversation or the feelings and thoughts they’d like their customers to have when they’re on their way home from doing business with them.

In my world that might be the whole family in the car on their way home from an active day out, a couple sat on an aeroplane on their way home from a relaxing long weekend, or a walk back to the office having indulged in a lunchtime treat. But whether your customers come to you for – business or pleasure – ask yourself what would you want them to be saying or feeling after doing business with you?


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4 Critical Steps To Connecting With Customers

Customers have expectations about products, services and interactions long before they walk through a company’s door or arrive at its website.

Friends, family, social networks, product and service ecosystems and brand attributes affect a customer’s perception of a company and every interaction they have with it. Fulfilling those expectations and transforming them into lifelong relationships involves a culture change that begins by looking at value from the customer’s point of view.

Building relationships and understanding why people do what they do are critical steps to attracting and retaining loyal customers. And it takes time. Relationships are built on trust, and trust is built over the span of multiple, consistently good interactions.

So how do companies build lasting customer relationships — and how do they maintain them? They connect the company’s DNA to the customer’s DNA and follow four critical steps.

1. Understand the customer. Companies are encouraged to understand each customer’s unique expectations, how the customer feels about the experience during the interaction and the memories that last long after the interaction has ended. Active engagement and experience tracking across all phases of the journey can help a company understand the customer — rationally and emotionally.

2. Enable the experience. Understanding is good, but that is just the beginning. To enable the experience, companies must map the customer’s expectations to organizational processes. This includes following the customer journey from beginning to end; identifying the most common situations that propel customers to buy products or services; analyzing interaction points that indicate where a customer may be tuning in or out; and designing the people, processes and technologies that can create unbreakable lifetime relationships.

3. Optimize the relationship. For this next step, companies may want to consider striking a balance between the value the company provides to the customer and the value the customer delivers to the company in return. An optimal financial performance enables a company to stay invested in the heart of their business — the customer. Organizations must simultaneously streamline business operations and improve the consistent quality time spent with customers in order to build trust. This happens most effectively when all functions understand how their activities contribute to the delivery of customer value.

4. Align the organization. Change management is a critical element, yet its scope extends beyond people to include processes, tools, management, metrics and culture. In addition to executive leadership and a willingness to empower the organization, companies will also want to create an experience-oriented organizational governance structure and an engaged employee workforce to help build loyal customer relationships.

Truly connecting with the customer is the most important step to building mutually valuable relationships. It’s as important as the products or services themselves. By aligning people, processes, tools, management and culture, companies can build trusted relationships that last a lifetime.

Julie Harter is an executive director in the Advisory Performance Improvement — Customer practice of Ernst & Young LLP. She is based in Chicago, Illinois.


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Weather, Congestion Produce Chassis Shortages


Winter weather has combined with congestion at terminals and backlogs for repairs to produce chassis shortages at the Port of New York and New Jersey and at Midwest rail terminals.

New York-New Jersey drayage drivers have complained for weeks about tight supplies of chassis at some terminals.

Truckers are reluctant to send drivers to congested terminals where they may spend several hours merely returning a chassis. Terminals also have a large backlog of chassis that have been “deadlined” for repairs by International Longshoremen’s Association mechanics.

“The fellows aren’t returning chassis. They’re holding onto them,” said Dick Jones, executive director of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers. “They’d rather the per-diem than send a driver back with an empty chassis and gamble on being able to find a good one.”

Another contributor to chassis shortages is extended free time for container usage that shippers often negotiate with ocean carriers. Many roadworthy chassis are sitting under containers waiting to be unloaded at distribution centers.

“It’s really affecting the flow of commerce,” said Eric Zeitouni, president of Blue Arrow Warehouse in Monroe, N.J. “It’s causing a frenzy in the entire market.”

Slow deliveries keep chassis out of system

Chassis shortages haven’t been limited to marine terminals. A series of winter storms have slowed deliveries at warehouses across the Midwest and slowed the return of intermodal equipment.

“It’s all due to the weather and the good chassis not being returned at the velocity the terminals need,” said Jason Hilsenbeck, owner of Load-Match and “All the good chassis get sucked right out of the terminals, and you’re left with the ones that need repair.”

“I have emails from truckers in Chicago saying their parking lots are overflowing with containers that still need to be delivered. Those chassis probably are good, but they’re not available to take other containers,” he said.

“You can go from Minneapolis to Chicago to Detroit to Cleveland, over to Boston, down to New York and Norfolk, and come back through Cincinnati — that’s your path of congestion and severe chassis shortages,” Hilsenbeck said.

The Los Angeles-Long Beach complex in Southern California is also suffering from chassis “dislocations,” which are leading to long turn times for truckers at terminals. Problems there are linked to carriers’ sale of containers as they get out of the chassis provision business.

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Winter Weather Closes Southern US Ports

JOC Staff | Jan 28, 2014 10:22AM EST

Forecasts of freezing rain and icy roads and bridges have led to announcements of halts in service at ports from Virginia to Texas.

  • The Port of Virginia said its truck gates, empty container yards and rail operations would close from 5 p.m. today to 1 p.m. tomorrow, but that the schedule might be modified if conditions change.
  • Virginia’s Newport News Marine Terminal will close from 2 p.m. today until 8 a.m. The port authority said vessels on berth will work until 9 p.m., but most pier-side cargo operations are expected to be completed by 7 p.m. Vessel operations at Norfolk International Terminals and APM Terminals Portsmouth will resume at 1 p.m. tomorrow.
  • The port authority said weather is not forecast to have an impact on cargo operations at Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal, or the Port of Richmond.
  • The North Carolina State Ports Authority said its Wilmington and Morehead City terminals would be closed to port authority employees today but that tenants would have access.
  • The South Carolina Ports Authority said Charleston terminals would close from 3 p.m. today until 1 p.m. tomorrow but that the schedule might be altered if conditions changed.
  • The Port of Houston said its Bayport and Barbours Cut container terminals and its Turning Basin breakbulk terminals would be closed all day today.
  • The Port of New Orleans’ Napoleon Container Terminal is closed today, along with schools and most government offices in the area. Terminal operator Ports America said an update was expected this afternoon about tomorrow’s operations.
  • The Alabama Port Authority said its public seaport terminals were closed until further notice because worsening weather expected to bring freezing rain and ice, 20- to 30-knot winds, and 10-foot seas offshore. The port authority said vessel arrivals and departures wouldn’t be affected but that ice accumulations of up to three tenths of an inch would make roads and bridges hazardous.
  • The port authorities advised customers to check port websites for updates.

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Once-in-a-generation winter storm descends on Deep South

A brutal winter freeze began to descend on the Deep South early Tuesday with a huge swath of the region in the crosshairs of a storm that forecasters called "potentially paralyzing."

The storm was still in its infancy at 3:30 a.m. ET but meteorologists at The Weather Channel said they already had reports of sleet and freezing rain in parts of Texas and Louisiana.

Schools from the Lone Star State to Florida earlier announced that they would close Tuesday, and the storm is playing havoc with air travel. As of 6:45 a.m. ET, airlines had cancelled 2,665 flights across the country, with Atlanta's Hartsfield–Jackson and Houston's George Bush Intercontinental airports bearing the brunt, according to FlightAware early Tuesday.

Winter storm alerts have been issued by the National Weather Service all the way from central Texas eastward through the Gulf Coast into Georgia, the Carolinas and far southeast Virginia.

Nearly 60 million people are affected by a cold weather warning or watch Monday night. By Friday, however, temperatures will rise above normal for much of the country. NBC News' Al Roker reports.

Weather Channel meteorologist Nick Wiltgen described it as a "potentially paralyzing winter storm." And the forecaster’s winter weather expert, Tom Niziol, said the South was in for weather "that many parts have not seen in years" — perhaps the biggest winter weather event in a generation.

The nasty weather will reach so far south that Johnson Space Center, in Houston, said it would be closed.

The the biggest snow threat lay in eastern and central Texas, including Houston, and stretched to southeast Virginia. Eastern North Carolina and southeast Virginia would have the greatest chance of getting more than six inches of snow, according to The Weather Channel.


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Polar Vortex, Backlogs Put Stress on Transport Networks

JOC Staff | Jan 17, 2014 10:04AM EST        

The polar vortex didn’t put the U.S. into a deep freeze for long, but the widespread chill is still causing transportation problems for shippers, railroads and drayage truckers. Those problems may be contributing to stronger-than-usual business for over-the-road truckers.

The cold snap hit some transportation networks at stress points, and resultant delays are a warning of what could happen if freight demand were to rise more quickly in 2014.

In addition to problems related to the cold weather, train derailments, port backlogs and what appears to be higher than usual general freight demand in January are testing transportation networks and shipping capacity.

Drayage drivers in the Chicago area hit with record freezing temperatures have grappled with malfunctioning rigs, delaying the pick-up and drop-offs of loads at intermodal rail terminals and shippers’ distribution centers, said Jason Hilsenbeck, president of LoadMatch &

The cold has also hampered diesel-fueled cranes at intermodal terminals. The lack of extended ramp storage, along with a shortage of chassis, has also frustrated drayage drivers, he said.

The railroads and terminal operators want to get the containers out of the terminal, and that results in containers sitting on chassis. “But drivers can’t handle new boxes if they don’t have free chassis,” Hilsenbeck said.

As a result, shipments piled up, and some shippers reportedly are diverting freight away from intermodal rail to avoid delays.


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Gulftainer’s UAE Terminal Ranked No. 1 Port in EMEA

Jan 15, 2014

Sharjah, UAE– January 15, 2014: Gulftainer, the world’s largest privately-owned independent port management and logistics company, based in Sharjah, UAE, increased its market dominance in 2013 by serving and controlling one-fifth of total containerised trade in the GCC region. The significant milestone was achieved as a result of streamlined operations and commercial efforts supported by high productivity, quick turnaround time and efficient customer support.

This achievement is further underscored in a global port productivity report recently published by the Journal of Commerce in the USA, which ranks Gulftainer’s Khorfakkan Container Terminal (KCT) as the top performing port facility in Europe, Middle East and Africa region. The report ranks leading ports based on a set of strict criteria and measurement principles and looked at 63,500 ship calls at major ports around the world. KCT was also recognised as one of the top three productive port operations globally.

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Per Shipco Transport - USA Advisory - NY/NJ Terminal Congestion / Chassis Shortage

USA Advisory

NY/NJ Terminal Congestion / Chassis Shortage causing Delays

Last week we announced extreme congestion at APM and Maher Terminal affecting NY customers as a result of the Hercules storm 2 weeks ago, followed by the below freezing temperatures the following week. Unfortunately, the situation at the NY / NJ ports has not improved. It has become apparent that these ongoing congestion delays may affect other branches of Shipco Transport.

We are still experiencing extensive delays due to labor shortage and now an extreme chassis shortage. Our drivers stand in line all day to come back empty handed as they are not able to get the containers. We are still dealing with limited trucker moves per day. We are not aware yet of when this situation will improve. We are trying to pick up our import containers that become available daily but are sometimes not successful due to these issues, which is why you might see we dispatch more than once. Please keep in mind that we (Shipco) are doing everything possible to try to make sure all cargo is loaded as scheduled and getting late gates where ever we can, but there might be some that roll beyond our control.

Phone Line delays - Due to these terminal delays, we are experiencing heavier phone volume, while our staff is trying to answer all calls you may experience longer waiting time. For imports, you are able to get status updates and availability thru our website at If you do not have a current login/password, you are also able to track on ICT's website under

We thank you for your patience during this time.

Contact us for bookings and inquiries

Atlanta +1 404 767 0246 | Boston +1 617 267 3009 | Charleston +1 843 744 8336 | Chicago +1 630 616 9100 | Houston +1 713 861 2100 | Los Angeles +1 562 295 2900 | Miami +1 305 591 3900 | New York +1 201 356 3500 | San Francisco +1 650 588 0363 | Seattle +1 206 444 7447

Courtesy of Shipco Transport  

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Little Changes Matter A Lot--And Other Innovation Lessons From LEGOs

You can do far more with what you’ve got than you realize. And innovation is easier than you can imagine.

Consider a LEGO brick. How many combinations do you think you can create from just six simple, eight-prong squared LEGO bricks?

Maybe a thousand? Wrong. Try higher.

A million? Not even close. Six regular LEGO bricks offer more than 900 million combinations.

That’s an essential truth about innovation that I learned recently from my Forbes colleague, David Sturt. There are infinitely more options than you realize in any situation.

Sometimes little tweaks solve big problems

There are several implications of the LEGO principle. For one thing, a few simple and small changes can result in big new things. Sturt has pointed out that that most innovations aren’t spectacular “outta the box” reinventions or revolutions. Rather, they’re minor twists on the current reality.

Innovation most often happens from adding or subtracting one or two pieces that are already in place.

Read more on on innovation in the workplace

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West Coast Ports to See New Threats in the New Year

JOC Staff | Jan 06, 2014 11:46AM EST        

Port of Los AngelesPort of Los Angeles

U.S. West Coast ports have arrived at a “crossroads” in 2014, according to the head of the Pacific Maritime Association.

In the next 12 months, U.S. West Coast ports will have to continue their fight for market share in the Asia-Pacific trade in the face of potential labor instability, productivity challenges and emerging competitive threats such as the expansion of the Panama Canal and growing volumes to the U.S. East Coast via the Suez Canal.

However, James McKenna, president and CEO of the PMA, said in JOC’s 2014 Annual Review and Outlook that 2014 represents an opportunity for West Coast ports to solidify their position as the “gateway of choice” for goods being sent to and from Asia. West Coast ports will be well-positioned if a new longshore labor contract can be negotiated this spring without disurption on the docks and if bigger ships now calling at West Coast ports can be handled efficiently.

PMA, which represents West Coast shipping companies and terminal operators in their dealings with longshore labor, will be tasked with negotiating a new labor contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents West Coast dockworkers. The talks are set to begin in April in preparation for the expiration of the parties’ current six-year labor contract on June 30. If negotiations turn sour, as they did in the 2002 and 2008 negotiations, there may be delays to container movements, and the reputation of West Coast ports as effective gateways for trade could suffer.

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Top Business Executives Name Their 10 Must-Have Mobile Apps

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'A real mess': Up to 100 million face mammoth winter storm - per NBC News

Some of the U.S.'s biggest cities braced for what's expected to be another mammoth snowfall and blizzard-like conditions in the Midwest and the Northeast — with as much as a foot and a half forecast through Friday.

Winter storm warnings stretched from Chicago through the New York tri-state region into New England — affecting an area home to more than 100 million people.

Officials in New York, New Jersey, and other areas of the East Coast are preparing for a major winter storm, warning residents to avoid travel. NBC's Tom Llamas reports.

Snow began to fall in Boston, the first major city on the East Coast to be hit, at around 1:30 a.m. ET on Thursday.

"It's going to be a long-duration event," said Michael Palmer, lead meteorologist at The Weather Channel. "The wind is going to whip around the snow and reduce the visibility, creating near-blizzard conditions in Boston, much of Connecticut and then down maybe as far south as New Jersey and even New York City."

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning on Long Island in New York beginning at 6 p.m. Thursday, predicting inch-an-hour snow with 45 mph winds during the worst of it Thursday night. Blizzard conditions also are warned for Cape Cod and coastal Massachusetts.

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