Market Update | February 2021

February 24, 2021

Read the latest on Operations and Carrier updates. For questions, comments, or assistance, please contact us.

At Crane Worldwide Logistics, we are equipped to navigate the changes to best support our clients. We will continue to monitor the situations globally to keep you informed.

To see our previous updates, please visit our COVID-19 Resource Center. For the latest on Brexit, follow this link.

Many countries have entered lockdown; however, all our facilities and warehouses are still operational. We have warehouse space available, ground transportation options globally, book air charters, and fill space on ocean carriers.

Ocean Operations

  • Supply and Demand will be in greater balance for the next three years. As a result, freight rates will remain at a high level. Lower than Q4 2020 but much higher than May 1, 2020 levels.
  • Accurate Demand planning should be the number 1 priority of shippers if they want to have supply consistency.
  • VOCC will continue to balance supply with demand as needed.
  • Expect further investment in ocean containers made by the ocean carrier community in 2021.
  • Expect schedule reliability to average around 67% on time for the first half of 2021.
  • Do not expect the costs associated with marine diesel at this moment to be relatively stable. However, the gap between Low Sulphur and High Sulphur's cost continues to show the gap widening in January 2021, with Low Sulphur outpacing High Sulphur. Between April 2020 through November, the costs were about the same.
  • Extended equipment detention free time is for the new contracts remains unlikely as carriers seek to turn equipment much faster.


As of Wednesday, 3rd February, 638 containers have been discharged from the ONE APUS at the port of Kobe, Japan. Progress is still relatively slow. Details for lost and damaged containers are still unavailable.

Ocean Port Operations Status

  • Prince Rupert and Vancouver: Vessel wait time is 3-4 days, Port delays are an additional 2-4 days.
  • Seattle: Fri 2/19 – T18 and T30 all day closed.
  • Oakland: Vessel wait time is 3 days. Nearly 20 vessels waiting to discharge, including 11 container ships.
  • Los Angeles / Long Beach:
    • Fri 2/26 – ETS, PCT, TTI, and YTI 2nd shift closed.
      • The vessel wait time is 10+ days. Over 40 vessels waiting to discharge, including nearly 30 container ships. 25 container ships are berthed.
      • IPI On Dock Rail delayed 7+ days.
      • Major Chassis shortages, delaying MLB/Doors, average LALB MLB dwell is 3+ days, some stragglers aging to 7+ days.
      • Cargo is buried, expediting containers from any terminal after discharge is quite difficult.
      • Due to continuing stay-at-home-orders for the LALB area due to hospitalization surge, delays for vessels, rail, and trucking are expected to increase significantly over the next 3 weeks.
  • Houston: 2/19 Terminals reopened.
  • New York / New Jersey: Vessel wait time is 4-5 days.

Commercial Air Operations Update

IATA released an information page listing airlines' status globally, which is free for all to access. Visit the page here.

Charter Operations and Aircraft Availability

What charters do Crane Worldwide Logistics have available?

  • Capacity is available for charters globally. Contact us for current rates and availability.
  • If you have an opportunity, send us the details, and we can work on the current part charter capacity and pricing. Charter prices are based on current availability, and that could change rapidly. Size and rates have been fluctuating a lot over the past few days.
  • Crane Worldwide Logistics must have a signed charter authorization from our client before signing the charter contract with the provider.  Make sure you have someone standing by to sign agreements; capacity and rates change quickly.
  • On all charters, funds must be received from our client before wheels up.

Air Freight Update

  • Air Bridge Cargo - Airbridge Cargo (ABC) has deployed its first 777 freighter, putting it on the Trans-Siberian route with a payload of 106 tons. “2020 has put air cargo at the front,” said Igor Borisov, director of Moscow’s Domodedovo Airport, “delivering much-needed medical cargo – PPE, vaccines, medicines, medical equipment and other items to combat Covid-19 spread. “We are positive that the new freighter type within Airbridge Cargo’s fleet will open new opportunities for other carriers operating to/from Domodedovo.”Customer Natalia Butrova, logistics leader Russia & CIS at GE Healthcare, added: “Timely delivery of sophisticated medical equipment stays one of the top tasks during these difficult times. Time-wise, airfreight is the most preferred mode, which, coupled with safety and security, is very important for us.”
  • Air Canada - will sell two passenger Boeing 767s to be converted into freighters before leasing them back as it targets growth in air cargo. The Montreal-headquartered company will sell two of its B767-300ER aircraft to ATSG-owned lessor Cargo Aircraft Management (CAM).The first aircraft will be inducted for conversion in March 2021. Both are expected to be redelivered to Air Canada by the end of 2021. This is the first sale-leaseback agreement between ATSG and Air Canada. In November 2020, Air Canada announced its plan to use converted freighters to grow its cargo business in response to “evolving opportunities in the airfreight market”. “Getting these two [Boeing] 767 freighters into our operation in 2021 is aligned with our announcement in November,” said Jason Berry, vice-president of cargo at Air Canada. “We are excited to be in a position to capture the market opportunities that currently present themselves. Delivering on our commitments is critically important to all of us at Air Canada. “The aircraft will be converted by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) of Tel Aviv, Israel. “It is always a great feeling to gain a new lease customer and we are proud to be able to again support a great airline like Air Canada,” said Mike Berger, chief commercial officer of ATSG. “We are looking forward to delivering these airplanes and extending our special partnership with Air Canada. “We continue to see growth outside of the US, and ATSG continues to enable great companies to take advantage of growing global e-commerce and mobile-commerce trends. “Like most carriers, Air Canada has seen cargo become an increasingly important part of its business as a result of the Covid-19 outbreak as passenger demand dropped and cargo revenues increased.
  • Brexit aftermath - As Britain officially leaves the European Union bloc and the UK citizens become third-country nationals, confusion rises in the airports around Europe. 
    Spain denies entry UK citizens flying to their homes in Spain have been stopped from boarding a joint British Airways-Iberia flight to Madrid as the carrier claimed their pre-Brexit residency papers were no longer valid. In an effort to contain the new COVID-19 mutation, Spain has banned all but Spanish nationals and residents flying from the UK to Spain on December 22, 2020. Even if the UK passengers had the green card as a proof of residency, some were still denied boarding the flight. “This should not be happening, the Spanish authorities have reconfirmed again this evening that the green residency document will be valid for travel to return to Spain as stated in our travel advice,” British Embassy in Madrid wrote in a tweet. Iberia issued a statement explaining that on January 1, 2021, it had received an email from border police ordering it to not recognize the proof of legal residency in Spain as a British national. However, the next day it received another one, confirming that documents could in fact be used, if they are not expired. Around 300,000 British citizens are registered as permanent residents in Spain. Other EU countries follow On January 1, 2021, thirteen British nationals were stranded at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport (AMS) as they were subject to the third-country coronavirus regulations and their trips were not essential, according to a Dutch border force spokesman Robert van Kapel. People from safe countries are allowed to pass, but the UK is certainly not a safe country right now,” Van Kapel said. He added that some travelers were going on a visit to Amsterdam or for a skiing holiday. “That’s just not the intention now,” Van Kapel said. Germany banned the flights from the UK on December 20, 2020 and extended it to January 6, 2021. Travelers from the UK with a proof of residency in Germany could enter the country from January 1, 2021. However, a number of British citizens were banned from the entry into Germany, as Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) did not accept their residency permits. A spokesperson from Lufthansa (LHAB) (LHA) said that apart from a few difficulties “the vast majority of travel by air from and to the UK is still running smoothly “Travelers on the Ryanair flight to Pisa, Italy, also reported similar issues. The exact number of flights and passengers affected has not been released by the UK Foreign Office, reported the BBC News.
    • Post-Brexit changes
      Since the end of the Brexit transition period on January 1, 2021, Britons can travel to the EU only with a valid reason and if they have at least six months left on their passport. They are also no longer eligible to use the EU fast-track passport control. A passenger must be ready to present the return ticket and proof of their sufficient finances while staying in the EU country. On December 24, 2020, the EU and the UK came to a last-minute agreement on trading relationships, avoiding the no-deal scenario. The new Brexit trading rules, which are supposed to ensure direct air connectivity between the two parties, came into force on January 1, 2021.
  • Canada - In an effort to further discourage international travel, Canada adopted stricter restrictions and banned flight to and from Mexico and the Caribbean. Flight restrictions On January 31, 2021, Canada’s additional travel restrictions came into effect. Country’s airlines agreed to suspend all flights to and from Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30, 2021. Starting February 3, 2021, all international flights, including business and charter flights, must arrive into Canada through one four airports – Montréal-Trudeau International Airport (YUL), Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), Calgary International Airport (YYC), or Vancouver International Airport (YVR). At the request of the Canadian government, Air Canada (ADH2) has suspended flights to the Caribbean and Mexico. “Air Canada (ADH2) believes a collaborative approach with the Government of Canada involving all air carriers is the best means to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic, especially given concerns around the variants of Covid-19 and travel during the Spring Break period,” said Calin Rovinescu, president and chief executive officer at the airline. Mexico’s Tourism Minister Miguel Torruco said there could be up to 791,000 fewer tourists due to the Canadian flight suspensions, which could result in around $782 million lost revenue. Meanwhile, Canada could lose up to 372,000 Mexican visitors and $368 million in lost revenues, announced the minister on January 31, 2021.Further regulations in addition, new quarantine regulations will be adopted. “As soon as possible in the coming weeks” all arriving passengers will have to quarantine for three days in a hotel approved by the Canadian government. The hotel costs, which include testing and surveillance, reportedly mount up to about $1,500 per traveler, according to the CNN News. On January 7, 2021, Canada imposed the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for all inbound passengers, in order to tackle a surge of new cases and the novel variant of the virus originating from the United Kingdom. In January 2021, after two Air Transat flights from Haiti landed in Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport with several COVID-19 cases, Health Canada informed that all passengers in all rows were potentially exposed to the virus. On January 15, 2021, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was not excluding the idea of international flight ban. “We're doing whatever it takes to protect Canadians, including looking at banning certain flights if necessary,” said Trudeau. “Decisions must be made based on public health guidance.”
    • Canada - Two Air Transat flights from Haiti to Montreal were potentially carrying enough infected travelers to put all passengers at risk of COVID-19.  The Canadian government uses tracking system Health Canada to inform the passengers who have been potentially exposed to the virus while traveling. Usually the specific rows are identified and passengers are advised to take precautionary measures. After Air Transat flights TS663 on January 10, 2021, and TS665 on January 13, 2021, landed in Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport (YUL) with several COVID-19 cases, Health Canada informed that all passengers in all rows were potentially exposed to the virus. Initially Health Canada listed affected rows on both flights as “unknown.” On January 15, 2021, the flight status was updated to “all rows,” as reported by the Toronto Sun. The Air Transat operated both flights on wide-body Airbus A330s, which can seat up to 375 passengers. However, the exact number of passengers on the flights is not announced. On January 7, 2021, Canada imposed the requirement of a negative COVID-19 test for all inbound passengers, in order to tackle a surge of new cases and the novel variant of the virus originating from the United Kingdom. However, Haiti was excluded from the new requirement. Due to the limited testing capacity, passengers arriving to Canada from Haiti are not required to show a negative test result. Since the new requirement was introduced, 72 international flights carrying COVID-19 infected passengers have landed in Canada. On January 15, 2021, the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said he was not excluding the idea of international flight ban. “We're doing whatever it takes to protect Canadians, including looking at banning certain flights if necessary,” said Trudeau. “Decisions must be made based on public health guidance.”
    • Canada continued To tackle a surge of COVID-19 cases and the new strand of the virus originating from the United Kingdom, Canada will soon make negative tests mandatory for airline passengers to enter or return to the country. The screening test must be taken no more than 72 hours before arrival at Canada's airports, harbors, or at border posts by land. The exact deadline for the enforcement of this new measure was not disclosed, though according to Dominic Leblanc, Canadian Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, it should be soon. “If I was on a Caribbean beach this week, I would look for a clinic to do a screening test before I returned to Canada,” Leblanc told Radio Canada. The requirement for a quarantine of 14 days upon arrival remains in force. The National Airlines Council of Canada, which regroups the four largest airlines of the country, namely Air Canada (ADH2), Westjet, Air Transat, and Jazz Aviation, reacted to the announcement. “Today's announcement was made without prior coordination with industry, and with many important operational and communications details yet to be determined,” the Council objected. “Major Canadian airlines have invested millions of dollars to protect the health and safety of our passengers and employees, and to protect public health.”
  • Cathay Pacific - expect some flight suspensions starting 20Feb with the implementation of these new flight crew quarantine restrictions put in place by the HKG government. Basically, they’re forcing quarantine of 14 days for inbound crew, plus an additional 7 days of medical evaluation. We’re kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place – we just don’t have the number of crew to operate every flight with them stuck in quarantine for 21 days, so some long-haul flights will be suspended (such as YVR). We just were informed about it on a conference call this afternoon. Our freighter flights will be less impacted, as we’re working out a plan to create a sort of “traffic bubble” between ANC and HKG where all our Trans-Pac freighters operate. Still, it’s going to be challenging over at least the next month or so. I think we’ll have a clearer idea of what our March schedule is going to look like after about.
    • Cathay Pacific - New measures against the spread of Covid-19 infections in Hong Kong could cost Cathay Pacific up to a quarter of its cargo capacity. The Hong Kong authorities are planning a 14-day quarantine and seven-day medical surveillance mandate for flight crews returning to the territory after a layover abroad. So far, flight crews have been exempt from Hong Kong’s quarantine rules, but the new regime is planned to come into effect sometime next month. The impact on Cathay will be severe. Management estimates it could affect as much as 60% of its passenger capacity and 25% of cargo capacity. The financial repercussions could raise its monthly cash burn by HK$400m (US$51.6m) to as much as HK$1.9bn. The new measure will have a significant impact on our ability to service our passenger and cargo markets. The actual extent of such impact is yet to be confirmed and will be affected by a number of factors, including the success of mitigation measures we are able to adopt, such as agile manpower resources management,” said group chief customer and commercial officer Ronald Lam. Cathay’s management is looking at ways to mitigate the impact of the new rules. One possible scenario is to set up complex sets of flights to create a closed loop that would see crews on travel for three weeks, followed by the quarantine period and a subsequent break.
    • Cathay Pacific - Cathay Pacific Cargo has announced a new scheduled freighter service between Hong Kong and Riyadh, starting tomorrow, with a 747-400ERF operating every Tuesday via Dubai. The airline said it had “seen a growing demand for air cargo flights between Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong. These new flights will meet the strong demand for shipments of e-commerce and other general cargo such as garments”.
  • China - A new Covid-driven bottleneck has hit the supply chain out of China: a severe shortage of truck drivers and air routes disrupted by crew restrictions. Quarantine laws mean that yesterday was the last day to work and be out of quarantine by the Chinese New Year’s Eve on 11 February. The result is that truck drivers are now self-isolating, and not working, before going to be with their families. “The toughest thing now is finding trucks and drivers, it’s even harder than finding.
  • Covid and UK/FRANCE Boarders - The UK government has urged haulers bound for France via Dover to get their Covid-19 tests before they reach Kent. Under French regulations, drivers arriving in the country from the UK must present a negative Covid-19 test taken within the last 72 hours. Department for Transport under-secretary Rachel MacLean today wrote to haulage representatives to share concerns that cross-Channel freight delays could worsen if haulers did not get tested earlier in their journeys. “As things stand, the significant majority of haulers bound for France are still leaving it until they get to Kent to get a Covid test,” she said. “While the low traffic volumes we are currently seeing mean this is not causing significant issues, as traffic volumes increase over the coming days and weeks, haulers arriving untested will become an increasing problem. “To avoid unnecessary friction at the border, and the resultant queuing and traffic disruption, it is vital haulers seeking to cross into France arrive in Kent and other ports serving France, having already been tested and obtained a negative result,” she continued, adding that the government had set up 34 testing facilities at advice centers created for haulers in the run-up to Brexit.
    • In addition Lufthansa Cargo has imposed security charges for all cargo departing the UK on road feeder services (RFS)  for onward flights out of its European hubs. Following Brexit, EU law no longer recognizes trucked cargo from the UK as secure, and requires such goods to undergo rescreening before onward flights. Lufthansa told customers their cargo departing the UK via RFS would be subject to ‘security charges for unknown cargo’ of £0.15/kg ($0.20), or a minimum of £17.25. The carrier said: “We are legally obliged to follow this new ruling,” adding it would be “voicing our concerns to the respective EU ministers”.
    • Although Lufthansa and thus far Cargolux appears to be the first carriers to publish details of additional charges, there are expectations more carriers will. The Loadstar approached Air France-KLM Cargo to ask if it would impose similar surcharges, but the carrier did not respond before publication.
  • Delta - As the COVID-19 vaccinations rollout across the globe, Delta Air Lines plans to bring 400 affected pilots back to flying by the summer of 2021, signaling optimism in the aviation sector. Delta Air Lines Senior Vice President and Chief of Operations, John Laughter, said in a memo to employees on January 21, 2021, that the airline is returning pilots, who were affected by the workforce reductions, to active flying thanks to the federal aid support program and increased distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines. “We’re cautiously optimistic that demand will increase as vaccinations roll out across the world, and we look forward to restoring all affected pilots back to full flying status as the recovery continues,” Laughter said in a memo that was seen by Reuters.
  • Emirate-Etihad - After Saudi Arabia extended its international travel ban, Etihad Airways and Emirates have temporarily suspended passenger flights to the Gulf country. In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, Saudi Arabia extended its international border closures to 20 countries beginning February 3, until March 31, 2021. United Arab Emirates-based carriers, Etihad Airways and Emirates, immediately announced the suspension of passenger flights to Saudi Arabia. The restrictions do not apply to Saudi nationals and citizens, diplomats, and medical staff and their families.“Effective February 3, 21:00 Saudi time – you will not be permitted to enter Saudi Arabia if you are travelling from or have been in any of the following countries in the past 14 days: Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, Germany, USA, Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Pakistan, Brazil, Portugal, United Kingdom, Turkey, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, France, Lebanon, Egypt, India, Japan,” stated Etihad’s website.Saudi nationals will be subject to seven-day quarantine upon arrival in their home country. For travelers who have visited one of the restricted countries, quarantine will be extended to 14 days. “As directed by the government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Emirates will not accept non-Saudi national passengers on flights from Dubai to Saudi Arabia, with immediate effect and until further notice,” announced Emirates. “Customers holding tickets with final destinations in Saudi Arabia will not be accepted for travel at their point of origin. Exemptions are Diplomatic passport holders and Health Practitioners and their families.”  As of February 4, 2021, Air Arabia has also canceled flights to King Abdulaziz International Airport (JED), in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
    • Emirates - On January 11, 2021, Dubai air carrier Emirates announced its plan to expand operations in the United States amid increased air travel demand. Emirates currently serves 114 destinations on six continents. Emirates will re-launch non-stop operations to Seattle from February 1, 2021, Dallas and San Francisco from March 2, 2021, growing its North American network to 10 destinations. Flights to/from Seattle (four weekly flights) and Dallas (three weekly flights) will be operated with two-class Boeing 777-200LR aircraft. Four weekly flights to/from San Francisco will operate on Boeing 777-300ER aircraft, following the resumption of services to Boston, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, New York JFK, Toronto and Washington DC. Dubai carrier Emirates will also be providing additional flights to New York, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo. Effective February 1, 2021, Emirates will be operating double daily flights to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) and a daily flight to Los Angeles (LAX). In South America, Emirates will be introducing a fifth weekly flight to Sao Paulo from February 5, 2021.
  • Fed-Ex - The cargo air carrier FedEx Express is planning to temporarily relocate  Hong Kong-based flight crews and their families to San Francisco, the United States. The move could represent a significant decline in cargo operations in the world’s busiest cargo hub. On January 27, 2021, FedEx Express in a memo to its employees, seen by the South China Morning Post, said it could move its aircrew to San Francisco as soon as February 1, 2021.“We do not believe it is appropriate to subject aircrew members to these extended periods of isolation,” stated the memo, adding that it had developed a plan to ensure it complied with new requirements while continuing to provide critical services in Hong Kong. On January 21, 2021, Hong Kong Minister of Health Sophie Chan Siu-chee confirmed that a 14-day quarantine rule is expected to be imposed on flight crews starting in February 2021, in order to minimize risks of spreading COVID-19 across the city. If aircrew quarantine is officially approved, all flight crews arriving in Hong Kong would be required to self-isolate in a hotel for 14 days, with exception of those arriving from Mainland China. Currently, flight crews in Hong Kong have to be tested upon arrival and wait for the results in a hotel for 24 hours.
    • Fed-ex - plans to cut jobs in Europe and combine air networks as part of the integration of TNT. The US logistics giant acquired TNT for €4.4bn in 2016 as part of its European expansion plans and has been integrating IT systems and air, road and ground networks since then. The company will now address the duplication of roles and presented its plans to European employee representatives and team members yesterday. These proposals will regrettably have a “workforce impact” of between 5500 to 6300 people across operational teams and back-office functions, FedEx said. “In the course of these consultations, the full range of support measures for affected team members will be discussed with works council representatives from across the region,” the company stated in a press release. “These measures differ by country and may include voluntary redundancy, reassignment to other roles and priority access to open positions. “The consultation process will take place over an eighteen-month period in line with local country processes and regulations.”
  • Hainan Airlines - The highest court in China’s Hainan Province has placed Hainan Airlines, including its six air carrier affiliates, in reorganization process in response to creditors’ applications for bankruptcy restructuring. On February 10, 2021, the People’s High Court of Hainan Province approved applications for bankruptcy reorganization of six Hainan Airlines Air Chang’an, Lucky Air, Fuzhou Airlines, Urumqi Air, Beibu Gulf Airlines, also known as GX Airlines, and Grand China Air. According to People’s High Court, Hainan Airlines, the parent company of above-mentioned subsidiaries, would start the reorganization process and keep the right to exercise shareholder rights, in accordance with the law, to “assist and guide the subsidiaries to actively perform daily operations and management on the existing basis.”Besides six airlines, People’s High Court of Hainan Province also approved reorganization of four other Hainan Airlines subsidiaries: HNA Aviation Technology, Hainan Fushun Investment, Beijing Kehang Investment, and by now-defunct Shanxi Airlines, which was merged with Grand China Air in 2007. Previously, HNA Group said that the operations of its flagship air carrier Hainan Airlines and its subsidiaries were stable. “The operation of the main aviation company is stable and normal, and the rights and interests of passengers, such as products purchased, members, and points, will not be affected,” HNA Group stated on February 1, 2021.
    • Hainan Airlines - Parent company HNA Group applied for bankruptcy and reorganization after a long period of financial struggles. “The relevant creditors applied to the court for bankruptcy and reorganization of our group because our group could not pay off their due debts,” HNA Group statement reads. The group will cooperate with the court to conduct judicial review and will actively promote debt disposal work, and support the court to protect the legal rights and interests of creditors in accordance with the law to ensure the smooth progress of enterprise production and operation, according to the statement. In February 2020, Chinese authorities stepped in to run one of the largest conglomerates in China, as it struggled to overcome the debt crisis made worse by COVID-19 crisis. The move was made at HNA’s request, according to the statement. HNA Group once attracted global attention for its aggressive spending including a stake in hotel giant Hilton Worldwide Holding and Deutsche Bank. However, the Group indebted after liquidity issues emerged in 2017.The latest financial report it published, covering the first half of 2019, showed that the company had 706.7 billion yuan ($109 billion) of debt. Hainan-based private conglomerate HNA Group was founded in 1993. It held a stake of 14 airlines and retained a fleet of 900 aircraft.
  • Hong Kong - One of the most important global airfreight gateways is facing the specter of tighter measures that could have a profound impact on cargo capacity. According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the Hong Kong government is looking to implement measures next week that include a mandatory 14-day quarantine for airline crews. This would apply to those on passenger and freighter aircraft returning to the territory after an international layover – so far they have been exempt from quarantine requirements. In Hong Kong’s fourth wave of Covid-19 infections, the number of new cases has risen lately, with 70 registered on Thursday alone. Seven were of foreign origin. Last summer, FedEx’s pilot union asked management to suspend Hong Kong operations, citing “unacceptable conditions” for pilots in quarantine and those who tested positive and were allocated to public hospitals. Around the same time, the union representing UPS flight crews called for pilots to have the right to decline missions to Hong Kong, which was then experiencing its third wave of Covid-19 infections. Both companies declined those requests. The impact of the new quarantine mandate for returning flight crews would hit Cathay Pacific the hardest, with serious repercussions for its long haul network.
  • IAG(British) - cargo handlers in the UK have reached an agreement with the airline following a dispute about planned changes to terms and conditions. The cargo handlers had carried out nine days of strikes over the Christmas period and were set to launch further industrial action last week. However, this was avoided when the union Unite and airline bosses came to an agreement. The union said that the agreement will see workers will revert to previous contractual provisions subject to agreed changes; no compulsory redundancies; improved pay protection for staff whose pay sits above the new agreed rates; an increase in pay for a significant proportion of staff; embers who did not sign the new contract and were dismissed will be offered their jobs back on the agreed terms. Unite assistant general secretary Howard Beckett said: “This is a tremendous result and finally ends the threat of workers in BA Cargo being fired and rehired at British Airways. “Huge credit must go to our members in BA Cargo, who firstly overwhelmingly voted for strike action and then delivered on that commitment by undertaking nine days of solid strike action, in the teeth of the Covid-19 pandemic.
    • IAG - has carried more than 1m Covid-19 vaccines to destinations in its global network. The carrier said some vaccines have been transported from its facilities at London Heathrow to North America and Europe. In addition, 80,000 doses were flown from its Madrid hub to the Canary Islands. It also shipped the Moderna vaccine from Dublin and Gran Canaria  vaccines were all transported using IAG Cargo’s Constant Climate pharma service, which supports the movement of millions of temperature-sensitive pharmaceutical goods every year. John Cheetham, chief commercial officer at IAG Cargo, commented: “I am delighted that we have already successfully transported more than 1m doses of Covid-19 vaccines around the world. ”Since the start of the pandemic in March, more than three quarters of our 1,000 charters in 2020 were used to transport thousands of tons of crucial medical supplies, PPE and ventilators. “We remain committed to continuing to offer our expertise to help support the fight against Covid-19 during 2021.”IAG cargo has more than 100 approved stations supported by pharma specialists. In addition, its London Heathrow hub is GDP-certified and WDA licensed by the UK’s MHRA (Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency).In 2019, IAG Cargo opened a new hub centre in Madrid dedicated to handling temperature-sensitive pharma goods.
  • KLM -  immediate future hangs in the balance, following an indecisive debate in the Dutch parliament yesterday. The carrier is hoping to acquire exemptions for crew from the new government mandate that every person flying into the Netherlands needs both a PCR test as well as a rapid Covid test. KLM told the government it would not leave any crew who tested positive in a different country, and if the exemption for crew were not given, it would cancel all flights requiring an overnight stay – including freighter flights. The government said it was open to alternatives to crew, and has given the carrier until Tuesday, when there will be a vote, to come up with an alternative plan, according to local media. Pieter Elbers, chief executive of KLM, said: “I am pleased that the minister says he is open to alternatives. What we now have to do together – and KLM is completely open to that – is see how we can find a workable, effective and suitable solution. “However, the new rule applies from 1-21-21, so time is of the essence. A spokesperson for KLM told The Loadstar there was a “contingency call” later today, which should result in more detailed news.  This will only affect passenger flights from NL to S. Africa/S America & Panama.
  • Norwegian - The long-haul low-cost carrier Norwegian will drop the long-haul from its business model, as the company looks into the future past its current restructuring process. Norwegian, in an announcement on the Oslo Stock Exchange, indicated that it “will henceforth focus on its core Nordics business, operating a European short-haul network with narrow-body aircraft. Under these circumstances, a long haul operation is not viable for Norwegian and these operations will therefore not continue. “The Norway-based airline has already phased out two of its Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft, as the pair officially exited its fleet in March 2020, data shows. In early-January 2021, Norwegian flew at least six of its Dreamliner’s to Ireland’s Shannon Airport (SNN) in order for lessors to re-possess them. The company itself has entered an examinership process in Ireland in November 2020, as it sought protection from its creditors in order to continue operations. At the time, Norwegian warned that it would need a fresh injection of capital in Q1 2021 if it were to continue flying after the examinership process. Now, the airline looks to “reduce its total debt to around NOK 20 billion ($2.3 billion). Norwegian also plans to raise NOK 4 - 5 billion in new capital through a combination of (i) a rights issue to current shareholders, (ii) a private placement and (iii) a hybrid instrument,” read the announcement on the Oslo Stock Exchange on January 14, 2021.
  • Qatar - The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Akbar Al Baker has seemingly changed his tone in regards to aircraft orders, as the airline will continue to take aircraft, according to a recently released statement by the CEO. “We will continue to take every single airplane that we have ordered from the both [Airbus and Boeing – ed. note] manufacturers because in Qatar Airways, we are very prudent in the way we place our aircraft orders and our requirements,“ was quoted , n June 2020, Al Baker stated that it was important for the two manufacturers to “to show to customers that they are not only with them in good times, but they will also be with them in bad times,” as Airbus and Boeing should “accept the requirements by airlines to delay deliveries of airplanes until at least 2022.” “If they do not oblige, they should also know that will permanently lose us as a customer to them,” Al Baker was quoted as saying.
    • Qatar - Qatar Airways Cargo took delivery of three 777 freighters on 1 January, bringing its freighter fleet to 30, of which 24 are 777Fs, four are A330Fs and two 747Fs. The airline said the new aircraft would be put on long-haul scheduled routes, as well as be open for cargo charters. “We are injecting much-needed capacity in the market, helping support global supply chains at a critical time during the pandemic,” said group chief executive Akbar Al Baker. “The added capacity will enable us to support logistics around the Covid-19 vaccination, which is projected to be one of the greatest logistical challenges for the industry. “Qatar noted that it had also temporarily converted six of its 777-300ER aircraft to operate cargo-only flights, introducing an additional 137 cubic meters of cargo volume per flight over the lower deck cargo capacity of 156 cubic meters.
  • United Houston - Good afternoon Crane-HOU Team, Winter Storm Uri is impacting our trucking operations throughout the Southwest and causing significant delays among several stations. The attached customer announcement details specific stations that will be impacted.  Please note that other stations may be impacted as a result of storm conditions and delays could be expected throughout additional areas of the U.S. The freight and mail restrictions communicated previously are still in effect as detailed in Update 1.We will closely monitor this evolving weather event and provide you with additional updates as the storm develops. Please contact our Cargo Customer Service Center at or reach out to your United Cargo Sales professional for more details.As always, United Cargo values your support and appreciates your business.
    • United Airlines - United Airlines looks to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for its employees and calls for other companies to follow its lead. The Chicago-based carrier wants all of its 60,000 staff to be vaccinated for COVID-19, Chief Executive Scott Kirby told employees on January 21, 2021. Kirby believes it would be the best practice to require vaccines from the airline’s employees and said United would be among the first wave of companies to require vaccines, if other companies follow. “Because I have confidence in the safety of the vaccine, and I recognize it’s controversial, I think the right thing to do is for United Airlines, and for other companies, to require the vaccines and to make them mandatory,” said Kirby to CNBC. Other US carriers are not as determined to instill the mandatory vaccination. Delta Air Lines is working for the aviation employees to be considered as front line workers to receive the vaccine earlier in the rollout and Southwest is encouraging employees to be vaccinated. Meanwhile American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) said the company is not planning on following United’s idea of mandatory vaccinations. “We do not plan to require our team members to receive the vaccine unless vaccinations are ultimately mandated for entry to certain destinations,” a spokesman for American Airlines (A1G) (AAL) said.
  • US Airlines - The United States lawmakers approved a $14 billion bailout package to support the country's airlines and their workers through September 2021. The House of Representatives Financial Services Committee voted in favor of the third bailout package for the country’s airlines. As part of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package offered by the Joe Biden administration, US airlines will receive $14 billion for payroll support, as well as $1 billion dedicated for contractors. The approved state aid is estimated to save around 30,000 aviation jobs through September 2021.Furthermore, on February 12, 2021, the White House gave in to the pressure from the airline industry and announced it was dropping the plan of mandatory COVID-19 testing for domestic flights. Shortly after, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said that “at this time, CDC is not recommending required point of departure testing for domestic travel.”On February 10, 2021, the United States House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved $8 billion to US airports and $3 billion for a temporary payroll support program for aerospace manufacturers.
  • Vietjet - While other air carriers worldwide report huge losses related to air travel restrictions, VietJet Aviation, a parent company of the low-cost airline VietJet, posted an after-tax profit of $11.9 million for Q4 2020. On January 31, 2021, VietJet reported an $11.9 million after-tax profit for Q4 2020 and a consolidated after-tax profit of almost $3 million for the full year. Although its revenue dropped by almost 30% in comparison to 2019 levels due to a decreased passenger demand, the air carrier still managed to save its profitable position as its current full-year profit is only 2% lesser compared to 2019.To stay profitable, VietJet made “drastic cuts to operating expenses” by trimming 10% of its daily operating costs and having secured up to 25% discounts with its suppliers. VietJet announced that it managed to “successfully hedge” jet fuel in May 2020. The move helped the air carrier to save an additional 25% of costs in comparison to jet fuel prices in the market. Besides, the air carrier received governmental support through taxes, including tax-payment extensions as well as reductions for air control service and landing/take-off fees.
  • Volga-Dnepr - Began bringing its AN-124s back into the market after grounding the fleet in November, following an engine failure, with one back in operation at the end of December, following the completion of technical checks and service directives. Two aircraft are currently flying, with additional aircraft coming back at a pace of 7 to 10 days per aircraft, said Konstantin Vekshin, chief commercial director of Volga-Dnepr Group. “We have two An-124s back in service as of today. The ultimate return will be incremental and we will take our time to follow the guidelines reflected in the service directives. “The carrier said it would discuss the return of its fleet with customers individually, and would keep them informed of progress. Mr Vekshin added: “We are in the process of diligent execution of the service directives. Everything is on the right track.”

Ground Updates

United States

  • Winter weather drove spot volume activity to extreme levels. Seasonally adjusted freight spot increased about 9% from what had been the post-pandemic high. The Dry Van segment rose more than 29% from the prior week’s post-pandemic high. The index shows seasonally adjusted volume at more than three times the pre-pandemic baseline with outbound tender volume up 34% over the previous year. Although the weather was a one-week impact, it will have a major impact on most freight networks for weeks to come. This is due primarily to the tight capacity conditions that existed prior to the storm. Usually during the winter, capacity is plentiful, and most networks are underutilized, allowing this type of disruption to be absorbed. With a meaningful number of trucks sidelined last week, freight piled up and it will take weeks to clear backlogs and accommodate demand.
  • The national average for dry van outbound tender rejection rates increased from 19.69% to 24.72% over a one-week period after winter weather struck the Southwest, Midwest, Southeast, and Northeast. Shippers have experienced significant jumps in dry van rejection rates across the entire state of Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio as carriers shut their trucks down to avoid dangerous road conditions. As the storm passes, shippers should expect to see high volatility in spot rates for on-demand capacity until the freight backlog is delivered. According to FTR, “We expect volumes to rise quickly next week, but it will take some time for carriers to work through the freight disrupted by the storms. This will keep upward pressure on tender rejections and spot rates through the end of the month and right into the beginning of the spring freight season.”
  • In the past week, the Los Angeles outbound tender rejection rate rose 4.1 percentage points, which is as large of an increase as the U.S. freight market overall, which is surprising given that the central and eastern U.S. has been dealing with very challenging weather conditions. During the past few days, the proportion of L.A. outbound to inbound freight has increased, which is reflected in its Head haul Index rising to 146 from just over 130 two days earlier.  Cargo volume through the Port of Los Angeles rose 3.6% in January, marking the sixth straight month of year-over-year increases, port officials said this week. The port processed 835,516 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) during the month, driven by strong imports and consumer spending. Port officials said they expect the flow of imports to continue in the months ahead, but they also noted that exports are lagging. “All indications point toward a strong flow of imports over the next few months as consumers continue an unprecedented buying surge, which began last summer,” Port of Los Angeles Director Gene Seroka said in a statement Wednesday. “However, U.S. exports continue to lag, down 25 of the last 27 months. What we’re experiencing is one-way trade, which has created challenges for the entire supply chain."
  • Rail volumes saw a significant decline last week due to weather-related disruptions, rail volumes declined 17.6% y/y and 16.3% sequentially. Intermodal declined a little less after having gained almost 7% y/y the previous week.  The Union Pacific has announced a 72 Hour pause on intermodal traffic this week.
  • The American Trucking Associations’ estimate that the industry is short 60,000 drivers. The pandemic has reduced the number of CDL graduates by roughly 40%, and the Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse sidelined roughly 56,000 drivers last year.
  • The national average price of a gallon of diesel increased 9.7 cents to $2.973 cents a gallon, according to Energy Information Administration data released Feb. 22.
    • The price of a gallon of diesel has increased 17.2 cents in the past two weeks.
    • Diesel now costs 9.1 cents more than it did at this time last year.
  • United Cargo
    • Winter Storm Uri is currently blowing across the Southwest U.S. bringing hazardous winter conditions. As a result, United Cargo’s trucking operations are impacted causing delays among several stations as noted below. The following stations should expect significant trucking delays as a result of Winter Storm Uri through Tuesday, February 16:
      • ABQ – Albuquerque International Airport, Albuquerque, NM
      • AUS – Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Austin, TX
      • DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, Dallas/Fort Worth, TX
      • IAH – George Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, TX
      • LRD – Laredo International Airport, Laredo, TX
      • MEM – Memphis International Airport, Memphis, TN
      • MSY – Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, New Orleans, LA
    • Please note that other stations may be impacted as a result of storm conditions and delays could be expected throughout additional areas of the U.S. The freight and mail restrictions communicated previously are still in effect as detailed in Update 1. We will closely monitor this evolving weather event and provide you with additional updates as the storm develops. Please contact our Cargo Customer Service Center at or reach out to your United Cargo Sales professional for more details.
  • Rates in both the spot and contract markets are seeing increases over 2020.  This is due to continuing strong demand over multiple sectors and rising costs related to driver pay, insurance, tolls, and most recently a rise in fuel costs. Diesel rose 7.5 cents to $2.876 a gallon, according to Energy Information Administration data released Feb. 16. The price of trucking’s main fuel has gained 13.8 cents the past two weeks and now costs just 1.4 cents a gallon less than at this time in 2019. This week’s rise in diesel marks the largest since a 9.4-cent surge Sept. 23, 2019 and just the second of at least 6 cents since Dec. 21, 2020.
  • The truckload markets reached what DAT called “an inflection point.” That is where dry van and reefer contract rates are now higher than spot rates for the first time in seven months. But spot rates have also found support at their current levels due to the strong demand. In most years, freight under contract represents about 87% of all truckload freight hauled. In 2020, that percentage was closer to 78%. More freight moved on the spot market than ever before, yet the total volume of truckload freight was almost unchanged compared to 2019. Surging e-commerce reoriented supply chains, requiring higher levels of inventory and driving demand for warehouse space and trucks to haul freight.
  • According to FTR, Dry van load volume rose 11.0% week over week. Dry van loads were about 155% higher than the same 2020 week and 173% higher than the five-year average. Volume was about 7% below the record level posted during the first week of 2021. Dry van truck postings were up 2.8%, and the dry van MDI rose to its strongest level since the first week of the year.
  • The COVID-19 pandemic forced more than 3,000 trucking companies out of business in 2020 — a significant leap from about 1,000 the year prior — as the early months of the global health crisis proved too difficult for some in the industry to withstand. A total of 3,140 trucking companies ceased operations last year, according to a report from transportation industry data firm Broughton Capital, up from 1,100 in 2019.
  • Multiple LTL carriers have announced General Rate Increases with some to be effective March 1. They have been in the 4.9% to 6% range. Indicative of tightening LTL capacity and a rate-disciplined environment.
  • A surge in new equipment orders during Q4 for both Class 8 tractors and trailing equipment has not hit the market due to backlogs and it appears carriers will be waiting into the second half of the year. Similar to the automotive industry a shortage of computer chips is limiting production.
  • Intermodal trailers and containers—at 269,422—saw a 2.2% annual gain, trailing the weeks ending January 30 and January 23, at 289,323 and 298,951, respectively.

Regional Updates



  • Up-swinging demand for capacities.
  • China demand for capacities is up as well as the rates into PVG.
  • Biggest handling agent of Frankfurt Airport, called FCS (subsidiary of Fraport) is dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak within their warehouse facility.


  • Container space out of China is critical into Germany, also rail and truck capacities are low! Also, vessels out of Germany into China and US are currently overbooked, current space bookable is 4 weeks.



  • Cargolux has now been advised by the relevant EU department due to Brexit cargo transiting the UK via RFS to LUX is no longer part of the EU Security Regime. For this reason it must be screened again at Luxembourg.


  • Stena doubling Rosslare-Cherbourg sailings due to post-Brexit demand.
  • Rosslare Europort, which is operated by Iarnród Eireann, will have up to 30 direct services to and from Europe next year.
  • We are seeing a huge shift away from UK Land bridge into mainland Europe.



  • Air export to US has reduced significantly compared with peak rates at end of December.
  • Rates to AP back down to pre-COVID levels, except for Australia.
  • Import from AP still at a premium, pre Chinese New Year, with high volatility.
  • Expecting to see effects of rates to ME following lifting of Qatar embargo


  • Equipment problems have eased but still space restraints on both EB and WB export lanes. Increases announced for February transatlantic and to FE/ME. LATAM rates increased after many years.
  • Import from FE not takings bookings locally, customers looking for space (the rate hikes have been accepted on the market).

Netherlands & Belgium


  • Space capacity slightly opening up, decrease in costs.
  • The booking confirmation is subject to airline approval.
  • Still require booking in advance.
  • Flight schedule subject to change without further notice and transit.


  • Space very still tight EU- Middle East & EU-Far East,   Far East – EU.
  • Container shortages resulting into additional fees implemented by carriers such as Equipment Imbalance fee.
  • Rates Far East – EU at all record high level, expectations this will continue until Chinese New Year and  the weeks after Chinese New Year.
  • Congestion in the US Port such as New York and Los Angeles as well as inland Rail terminals in the USA.
  • Timely booking, correct and longterm accurate forecast is key to ship in time.
  • HL: Area Germany & Central Europe – Equipment Shortage 40´GP & HC – Temporary Booking Stop.
  • HL: Equipment Imbalance Surcharge - Exports from North Europe (excl. UK and Ireland)



  • Received circular from QA on resuming service to Damma, Riyadh and Jeddah by next week. Awaiting circular on the other countries too.


  • Milaha issued circular on resuming service. But not yet started booking. Few NVOCC operators service between Jebel Ali and Doha till date was not authorized. They used to switch BL in Oman. In the present circumstances, they are able to issue Direct BLs.  All other lines like MSL, CMA, HLL, MSC awaiting approval from line desk for discharge/loading in Jebel Ali port.


  • Land Freight struck following COVID-19 protocol by the drivers that is to have hotel quarantine for one week which is not a viable option. But there a discussion going on in the Ministry of Transport to remove this hassle by forming an isolation camp near Abu Samra border for the drivers arriving from Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia


  • Booking confirmation are subject to airline’s approval.
  • Flight schedule subject to change without prior notice and transit delays.
  • Qatar embargo is lifted and operations have resumed.


  • Space constraints continues with many challenges.
  • Most of the carriers are implementing new tariff per cntr (inspection charges @ depo)
  • Qatar embargo is lifted and operations have resumed.


  • Border clearance: Qatar embargo is lifted and operation has not yet commenced.

South Africa


  • Market rates are still on a per shipment basis, and some airlines are now applying their gold / express rates.
  • Space availability is subject to the time of booking and last minute off-loads can be expected due to space availability.


  • Co-Loaders are constantly sending through GRI increases during the month for Far East trade lane.
  • Some Co-loader rates are being revised BI-monthly.
  • Constant Space and Price issues from Far East for FCL.
  • Delays for Inland movement from Durban to Johannesburg via Rail due to cable Theft.
  • Sailings into Cape Town, from the Far East are difficult to secure space, and rates are much higher.

United Arab Emirates


  • Booking confirmations are subject to airline approval.
  • Flight schedule subject to change without further notice and transit delays.
  • Qatar – EY would resume their flights from 18th February, 2021.   Meanwhile, awaiting Qatar customs confirmation to accept UAE cargo.


  • Space constraints continue with booking delays.
  • Import vessels are delayed at the transshipment points, whereby, cargoes are arriving late than proposed.
  • Operations at Jebel Ali port are as usual.
  • Direct calls to Qatar are on hold from the Main line operators or Feeder services.  Awaiting Qatar customs to activate and accept UAE cargo.


  • Except Qatar, rest of the GCC destinations movements are regular.
  • Qatar movements are still monitored by the transporters for Qatar customs to confirm acceptance of UAE cargo.
  • Due to COVID restrictions in the region, it is advised to check, prior movement of the freigh.

United Kingdom


  • Mainland EU connections back to normal.
  • UK RA/KC Security status not currently recognized by EU so any freight transiting through Mainland EU treated as ‘ Insecure.
  • Limited Capacity to India, Australia & US


  • UK Container and truck haulage now stable but very busy (expect up to 4 days for collections / deliveries).
  • Ports less congested but still delays. Most SSL now implementing UK port congestion surcharges.
  • Vessels delayed inbound and outbound by up to 7 days.
  • Some vessels still omitting UK ports.
  • Vessel space for exports on most lanes / lines.

Global Border Crossing Status and restrictions

  • Facilitated by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, read more here.

Land Borders

  • Sixfold have a free application that maps out European borders with live information on crossing times. Read more here.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection assesses an annual user fee for each customs broker district and national permit held by an individual, partnership, association, or corporation. CBP has announced 2021’s user fee is $150.33 and is due to CBP no later than January 29, 2021.


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