In the face of severe disruptions to the world’s supply chains caused by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, Maersk has promised it will shoulder its responsibilities to ensure food is delivered around the world.
In an open statement, ocean and logistics chief executive, Vincent Clerc, said, “At Maersk, we […] understand that we have a large responsibility, both for our people and for our partners. You have trusted us to care for a large part of your supply chain, and I wanted to reassure you that we are as committed today, as before to enable your business.”
In terms of specific measures Maersk has adopted, Clerc said, “Our seafarers who transport your goods have stepped up and extended their time at sea, our office teams are all working remotely on laptops and are available via the usual phone numbers, web and mobile channels, ensuring both social distancing and business continuity. We have learnt from our Chinese colleagues who have kept the business running throughout the most severe of times and are pleased to share that all our operations are still in place to serve you.”
Port of Antwerp ready to take on Covid-19
The Port of Antwerp’s Covid-19 Taskforce, which consists of key players in the organisation of the port, has expressed its full commitment to keeping the country supplied. In a statement, the Taskforce said that it remained 100 per cent operational thanks to the daily efforts and commitment of all its employees. The taskforce has identified key aspects that needed attention and set up a port monitor to survey the daily operations.
“At the moment the port platform is operational and there are no insurmountable problems,” the port stated. Handling on the terminals is going ahead normally, there is sufficient manpower available to deal with cargo, and drivers are arriving and departing without too much delay.”
As of last weekend, the moment Port of Antwerp had not seen any decline in freight volume. However, it expected a drop in traffic at the port in the coming weeks as a result of the outbreak. For instance, 15 fewer large container carriers from Asia will call, equivalent to 115,000 TEU.
The port stressed the importance of keeping Europe’s borders open for all forms of freight transport.
IATA calls on governments to support air cargo in fight against Covid-19 pandemic
On 16th March the International Air Transport Association (IATA) stressed the important role air freight will play to help countries fight the Covid-19 pandemic, calling on governments worldwide to take urgently measures steps to facilitate the movement of cargo by air. Over 185,000 passenger flights have been cancelled since the end of January. With the collapse of some passenger airlines and the parking of many planes, the available freight capacity has plummeted.
The IATA points out that air freight is being used for transporting food, essential medicines, medical equipment, spare parts and components for such equipment, as well as maintaining global supply chains for time-sensitive operations. The statement said: “The world’s fleet of freighter aircraft has been mobilised to make up [the] capacity shortfall. Governments must take urgent measures to ensure that vital supply lines remain open, efficient and effective.”
The steps that the IATA calls for include exempting the crew members of freighter aircraft, who do not encounter the public, from 14-day quarantine measures and exempting air cargo operations from Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Standardised measures should be implemented, to allow air freight to move globally with minimum disruption. Temporary traffic rights for cargo operations should be supported, in cases where restrictions apply. Economic impediments to air freight, such as parking fees, “slot” restrictions and overflight charges, should be removed during the crisis.
The increase in fruit and vegetable exports in the last two weeks as a consequence of the Covid-19 coronavirus crisis has caused many trucks originating in Spain to be outside our borders without a guaranteed return, at least with merchandise. Normally, these trucks return to the point of origin loaded with other types of products; however, the stoppage of productive activity in other European sectors is preventing this from happening.
“There is a significant shortage of returns,” sources from the J.Carrión company affirm in statements to the magazine MERCADOS, stating that “if the situation does not change in the short term, that shortage will increase”; and on this circumstance will depend the increase or not of the prices.
From the company based in Huércal de Almería (Almería) they insist that, “globally, transport is not going to become more expensive”, but they clarify that, currently, “there may be lines that are increasing in price due to the lack of returns , which causes the return of empty trucks ”. The other option is to return at a lower price than those who usually pay at destination to Spain and which, in this case, would have to be assumed by Spanish companies.