February 2012 - Issue 70    


East Cost Ports Prepare for Megaships

As the completion of the Panama Canal expansion project draws closer, ports across the eastern seaboard from New York to Miami are preparing with expansions of their own.

The expansions are mandatory for ports wishing to accommodate so-called Super Post-Panamax Megaships. These vessels can be up to 235 feet longer and 54 feet wider than the current Panamax class. More importantly, they can handle as much as 12,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units – a measure of cargo ship capacity) compared to the Panamax ships that hold no more than 5,000 TEU.

In addition to projects that will deepen the ports as part of preparation for the larger ships, heavier cranes to handle the increased capacity will be required. These cranes weigh between 1600 and 2000 tons – roughly twice the weight of average port cranes – and will require waterfront foundation redesigns among other infrastructure improvements. Other enhancements underway include government agencies working to expand security scanning capabilities and port authorities upgrading to systems that not only deliver more efficient equipment interchange, but are also eco-friendly and energy-saving.

Locally, east coast AIT stations and gateways are poised to capitalize on the opportunities presented by port expansions in their regions.

In Savannah, Georgia, the river is being deepened while the port of Charleston in neighboring South Carolina is also expanding. In addition to trans-Pacific eastbound cargo growth, the Global Services Regional Manager of AIT's Atlanta Global Service Center is expecting the US to Europe and US to Asia export LCL (less than container load) consolidation markets to grow as a result of the increased capacity. "The cost benefits associated with larger volume ships will help us provide better carrier choice and service reliability," he says. "Our ability to articulate our partnerships with the vendors embracing eco-friendly trends in global shipping and logistics will pay good long-term dividends."

Further south, as the port closest to the Panama Canal, the Port of Miami expects to be the most desired destination for the post-Panamax ships. The port's Deep Dredge project aims to deepen Biscayne Bay to 50 feet from 42 feet. Additionally, the Port of Miami Tunnel Project will offer trucks a more direct route to and from the port with a bypass of downtown Miami and a 4.4 mile rail link between the port and Hialeah intermodal rail yard is under consideration. Jaime Cabrera, AIT’s Director of Latin American Development, says new trade agreements with Latin America have sparked expansion interest. He adds, "The growth in Latin American and Caribbean markets combined with port expansion will help to increase transshipping through Florida in the coming decades."

To date, the ports in Norfolk, Virginia, Baltimore and New York have channels with sufficient post-Panamax depth. Baltimore’s Seagirt Marine Terminal will have the additionally required 50-foot container berth before the end of 2012. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, however, must complete their $1 billion project to raise the Bayonne Bridge by 65 feet before the megaships can pass underneath.

Miami Gateway celebrates Record Year

Thanks to tremendous support from the network of AIT stations and partners, Miami Gateway transported a record 1.2 million kilograms of freight in 2011, doubling the previous year's total.

As new partners have been integrated over the past two years, demand for capacity has increased and the station expanded by moving to a larger facility in September 2011. In collaboration with partners and the recently introduced Miami Global Service Center (GSC) team, Miami Gateway is in a strong position to continue growth and development in the Latin American market for 2012 and beyond.

Currently, the Miami GSC is utilizing weekly direct ocean LCL consolidation to Chile, Costa Rica and Peru. There are also four weekly air freight consolidations to GRU and VCP in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with consolidations to Chile, Peru, Colombia and Costa Rica once per week.

Looking ahead, the GSC team will also be adding weekly air freight consolidations to both Guatemala and Nicaragua.

AIT's LTL service continues to prosper

AIT’s new LTL service has been growing as more customers are taking advantage of the convenience offered by the economical ground transportation solution.

In December, stations moved 337 shipments through the MyLTL program, an increase of 33% from the previous month. More impressively, shipments more than doubled to 719 in January as the steady increase in participation climbs month-over-month.

Since its launch, the MyLTL demo has also been one of the most-visited pages on AIT’s website.   

Imports off to a slow start

Import traffic at major U.S. container ports will kick off with a whimper and won’t pick up until the spring, according to Global Port Tracker. Shippers will be “stocking up this spring in anticipation of a moderate recovery as the year progresses,” said Jonathan Gold, National Retail Federation vice president for supply chain and customs policy.

The monthly forecast by the NRF and Hackett Associates falls in line with Journal of Commerce economist Mario Moreno’s forecast of 1.3 percent growth in the first quarter. Moreno forecasts 2.8 percent growth for the full year. NRF expects retail sales to slow to 3.4 percent this year, as high unemployment, slow income growth, commodity inflation and shaky housing market keep consumer confidence fragile. Retail sales grew 4.7 percent year-over-year in 2011. 

Source: Journal of Commerce, January 23, 2012

African, Latin American nations rank among top exporters

Africa and the Americas are emerging as the shining stars of the airfreight industry, according to the 2012 Agility Emerging Markets Logistics Index. Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco and the Latin American nations of Ecuador, Peru, Mexico and Chile all rank among the top 10 fastest-growing exporters, the report found. 

What’s more, the index — compiled by Transport Intelligence — detailed how Kenyan exports by air to the European Union surged 134 percent between 2005 and 2011. Ethiopia also saw strong export volumes to the U.S. and EU, driven by the region’s prolific coffee sector. 

On the import side, Transport Intelligence discovered that Brazil, Russia, India and China (the BRIC countries) topped the list of importers from the U.S. and EU. The United Arab Emirates took home fourth-place honors in this category, with South America, Turkey and Mexico all placing among the top 10. 

Another key finding was that the busiest trade lane for airfreight in 2011 was China to the EU; 1.13 million tonnes traveled between these regions last year, according to the Transport Intelligence study.

To Agility President and CEO Essa Al-Saleh, all of these statistics point to a larger phenomenon. “Emerging markets are more resilient than they’ve ever been,” he said in a statement. “There’s growing evidence that their dependence on the established markets is diminishing as new trade lanes grow and consumer demand in huge markets like China and India gathers strength.” 

The Gulf is also a hotbed of growth, Al-Saleh explained, despite recent political strife throughout the region. “In the Middle East, where we saw old regimes fall, the index indicated that logistics professionals see the region as ‘open for business’ in a way that it wasn’t before,” he stated. 

Transport Intelligence CEO John Manners-Bell said these findings illuminate the importance of looking beyond the traditional leaders for market growth. “Emerging markets have never been so important to the global economy,” he said in a statement. “However, operating in these markets requires a great deal of attention and preparation as the business environment is often highly challenging.” 

This entry was posted in Air Cargo World News.

2011 Ends on a Positive Note - Capacity, Economy Loom as Issues in 2012

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported that full year 2011 passenger demand rose 5.9% compared to 2010, in line with long-term growth trends. In contrast, cargo markets contracted by 0.7% for the year; but recorded positive demand growth in December of 0.2%. Growth in demand lagged capacity increases at 6.3% (passenger) and 4.1% (cargo) putting downward pressure on load factors. The average passenger load factor for 2011 was 78.1%, down from 78.3% in 2010, while the freight load factor was just 45.9%, down from 48.1% in 2010. 

“Given the weak conditions in Western economies the passenger market held up well in 2011. But overall 2011 was a year of contrasts. Healthy passenger growth, primarily in the first half of the year, was offset by a declining cargo market. Optimism in China contrasted with gloom in Europe. Ironically, the weak euro supported business travel demand. But Europe's primarily tax and restrict approach to aviation policy left the continent's carriers with the weakest profitability among the industry's major regions. Cautious improving business confidence is good news. But 2012 is still going to be a tough year,” said Tony Tyler, IATA’s Director General and CEO. 

Passenger demand for December rose 5.4% compared to the same month in 2010. But the trend since mid-year has clearly slowed, as travel markets react with a lag to the declines in confidence that weakened cargo in the second half of 2011. Comparisons with December 2010 are also distorted as severe winter weather in Europe and North America as well as strikes in Europe suppressed demand. December 2011 passenger demand was up just 0.7% over November while the load factor declined 0.2 percentage points. Freight capacity climbed 4.4% in December compared to December 2010. The freight load factor was just 46.1% for the month. 

Source: International Air Transport Association, February 1

 © 2012 AIT Worldwide Logistics, Inc.

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