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25th March 2020

COVID-19 Updates

We would like to share our latest update on the Covid-19 virus. The focus has shifted away from China to Europe and the rest of the world.

China

General Status

Our reports had indicated that around 65% of factories were back to full production, but events in the rest of the world are now affecting China again. With an increasing number of countries now in lockdown, buyers are deferring or cancelling orders which has effectively put China production on hold.

Hong Kong

Operations are continuing as normal, CFS are receiving cargo and loading containers.

Vessels and Cancelled Sailings

In the last two weeks, with ports and terminals largely returned to normal (except Wuhan), we had been seeing a big recovery in the trade between Asia and North Europe. Carriers had reverted to normal services by the end of March, but the situation in the rest of the world is now causing carriers to downsize or cancel vessels at short notice. We now expect a series of deep cuts in capacity on Asia to North Europe in April, as the trade reacts to the falling demand. We are working closely with customers who are shipping relief effort or time sensitive products.

Trains from China

The uncertainty over European border restrictions is having a significant impact on train availability, and we would ask customers still interested in this product to contact us with specific details of the cargo to be moved.

South East Asia and the Indian Sub-Continent

The situation had improved over March with many services reinstated, but with various countries entering lockdown over the last week it does appear that business will largely

hibernate for most of April. The new wave of cancelled ships from China will again affect other origins in the coming weeks and we will update those customers affected.

India

India is under total lockdown for the next 21 days; ports are not operating, and cargo cannot move on the roads.

Vehicles in transit are stranded and they are not being unloaded as warehouses are closed. Police are not allowing vehicles to move from CFS to the ports.

Pakistan

The federal government has partially locked down the whole of Pakistan; Sindh state, the most affected area, has been completely locked down for the next 15 days.

Apart from essential services, Karachi port will not be operational for the next 2 weeks.

Our colleagues are working from home where possible, but there will be no paperwork completed or operational activities for the next 2 weeks. Shipments will be rolled and rescheduled once normal operations are permitted to resume.

Further the documentation flow will also be disrupted as no carrier / in-house BL and FCR can be released/printed for the shipments which have already sailed.

Bangladesh

The government confirmed to shut down all public and private offices from 26th March to 4th April.

Sri Lanka

There is an island wide lockdown until further notice. All warehouses are closed, but our colleagues will respond to queries from home.

Cambodia

All ocean operations are working as normal, including CFS, trucking and ports. Feeder spaces are available but space on mother ships may not be available.

Mauritius

Lockdown began on the 20th of March for an initial period of 2 weeks.

Air Freight

There is still little cargo moving; capacity is much reduced, and rates are at an all time high. Some cargo scheduled to move by air is switching to sea freight and some orders have been withdrawn.

All carriers have cancelled previously agreed commitments on capacity and rates, and prices are very volatile for both imports and exports.

Northern China.

Minimal volumes available to fly and with capacity still at peak rates.

Southern China.

Capacity is available but at astronomical rates.

Korea.

With all the passenger flight cancellations, carrier options on freighters are limited.

Eco Air and Korean origin freight movements are ok this week, but we foresee space issues and rates increasing again from next week.

Singapore.

More passenger flight cancellations were announced yesterday. With the increased volumes from Southern China coming through, Singapore is at peak with limited capacity. Rates are on the increase.

India

The country is on lockdown.

All passenger flights are suspended until the 31st of March 2020. Freighter operations are officially available, however since the airline offices are closed, we are unable to handover / pick up documents.

Customs are operational but with 5-10% of staff to process pharma and essential commodities / services.

Pakistan

All passenger flights cancelled with immediate effect. Will remain in effect till 1st week of April.

Sri Lanka.

Island wide curfew in place. Additional information due later this week

Mauritius

All passenger flights in/out are cancelled till further notice. The country on lock down unless a government permit is issued to individuals / companies.

Bangladesh

Nearly 70% of carriers have cancelled flights in /out of Dhaka. There is limited carrier choice & limited space.

Rates have just gone up.

Madagascar

Madagascar has declared lock down. The airport is closed for passenger aircraft until the 20th April 2020. From today, all our colleagues are working from home.

Other Origins

Space is available but there is limited cargo; rates are rising every day.

Continental Europe

All our European offices, hubs and partners are open and working within their own government guidelines.

Freight is still moving, although borders are closed for travellers and holiday makers. Delays are occurring because of driver health checks at border crossings and

extended transit times should be expected. Priority is being given to essential freight such as foodstuffs and pharma.

Whilst we continue to try and maintain our road freight departure schedules, it’s becoming more challenging due to the delays that drivers are encountering to/from the UK. The number of forward bookings is much reduced and groupage services will be very affected. We will continue to accept bookings on a case-by-case basis, please contact your usual ACS representative.

Freight movements may well be affected as DCs / warehouses cease operations.

There is also an issue with the ability to print documentation for border checks which may also affect transits.

Rates are increasing and delays to standard transit times will grow.

Turkey

Most trailers moving to the UK from Turkey transit Italy. The current situation is that operations on the trains and ferries are functioning but with the caveats mentioned above.

We do have a multi-modal option for flat pack freight moving from Turkey, which offers a reduction on the standard trailer rates. Please contact us if you would like details on this service

UK

Confirmed cases of the virus continue to rise in the UK and the government has instructed everyone to stay at home, apart from essential workers, for at least the next 3 weeks. Non-essential travel is not allowed. All shops, except for food shops and pharmacies, are closed, as well as restaurants, pubs and clubs.

ACS is complying with all government measures. Our offices are operating with a skeleton staff where it is absolutely necessary but will remained manned from 0:800 to 17:30; all other colleagues are working from home with full access to company systems. You will be able to reach your usual ACS contacts by phone just as if they were in the office. We do not anticipate any notable impact to our customers.

Our CORE Command Team (Central Operating Response to an Event), is monitoring the situation carefully.

UK Airports

As previously indicated, inbound freight is still flowing through with no disruption. However, volumes are significantly down.

UK Ports

Our UK main ports have all announced measures to remain operational throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. Measures include: screening of the vessels arriving, social distancing of staff between shifts, and Southampton, London Gateway and Felixstowe will now close UK landside operations for up to 4 hours a day in order to deep clean their terminals. This will affect vehicle booking slots and put some pressure on delivery requirements, but we will consult with clients individually about any issues.

Payment of Import VAT

The UK Government recently announced that businesses could defer the payment of VAT for three months, however, this arrangement does not yet apply to VAT payable at the time of import.

We understand that the UK Government is considering options to further support businesses during this challenging time; these could include bringing forward its plans for postponed VAT accounting for imports – which are due to take effect at the end of this year when the UK completes the Transition phase after leaving the European Union.

UK Transport

The government has announced the temporary relaxation of the enforcement of drivers’ hours rules from Monday 23rd March 2020 until 23:59 on Tuesday 21st April 2020.

The current Government advice permits customers operating warehouses to continue taking deliveries of even non-essential goods, provided they are complying with the official government advice. ACS will continue to provide customers with delivery services for as long as the rules allow this.

In line with Public Health England advice to the road haulage industry, there is no public health reason to deny access to toilet facilities to freight drivers (or others) who do not have symptoms of a cough or high temperature. We ask our customers to please facilitate our drivers so that they can still access toilet and handwashing facilities.

UK Exports

Sea

The situation on exports is largely unchanged from last week, with a lack of vessels arriving due to the original outbreak in China, and shortages of empty containers for export. Please keep in contact with your usual ACS contacts for pricing and availability on export shipments.

Air

Export contract rates have been withdrawn till further notice and only ad hoc market rates are available.

Emirates has just announced they will be converting passenger 777 into cargo only freighters. Capacity will increase for European movements, along with ISC and middle east. Rates for these services are as yet unknown.

UK Warehousing

We have both chilled and ambient warehousing space available in the UK.

Chilled

The Midlands – 9,000 pallet spaces

Ambient

West – 4,000 pallet spaces

South West – 12,000 pallet spaces

South Midlands – 2,500 pallet spaces

Midlands – 7,000 pallet spaces

Yorkshire – 2,000 pallet spaces

Please contact us if you need storage solutions to manage your demand volatility.

 

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