Date: 24.03.2020

Coronavirus update, 24th March

As the global Covid-19 crisis gathers pace and the UK is placed on a heightened lockdown, Metro Shipping and our partners in the resilient logistics sector continue to find ways to ensure cargo continues to move around the world.

These are extraordinary and challenging times and it is essential that the supply chains, which deliver the goods and materials we need continue unhindered, which is why Metro Shipping and our personnel are classified as ‘essential’ service providers by the government, to keep our customers supply chains moving.

UK impacts of Covid-19

  • Strict new curbs on life in the UK to tackle the spread of coronavirus have been announced by the prime minister and police will have the powers to enforce them.
  • The shutdown of UK businesses has impacted import retailers and manufacturing exporters alike, with direct consequences for the logistics sector.
  • To date, BMW, Toyota, Honda and JLR have suspended manufacturing operations.
  • Major retailers including Primark, John Lewis, Topshop and New Look have already closed their high street operations, with other non-essential retailers following from today.
  • The collapse of consumer demand will inevitably lead to shippers delaying or cancelling orders, and again, reduced cargo demand will affect vessel schedules and the supply of carrier capacity.
  • These moves will inevitably lead to congestion at ports, distribution centres and warehouses, which we expect to see by April.

We will continue to monitor the situation and share further information with you.

UK ports and airports

  • The UK government has acknowledged the strategic importance of ports and airports in maintaining the supply of vital goods to the UK market.
  • Detailed contingency planning is in place to ensure that the infrastructure and manpower will be maintained, and the impacts on supply chains minimised as far as possible during what may be an extended period of disruption.

Ocean Freight

  • Although a certain level of blank sailings continue, the general ocean freight market is returning to normality across import and export lanes.
  • However, as the global reach of the Covid-19 epidemic forces more local lockdowns and home working, the inland transport sector is increasingly affected.
  • Currently sea ports and shipping lines are reviewing quay rent and storage free-time arrangements as the ports are likely to experience congestion issues.
  • We would recommend our customers comprehensively review forecasts and schedules, and the upcoming container receipts and dispatch to ensure storage costs are not unnecessarily incurred.

Please do contact us if you wish to discuss any requirements, we have a number of options that may be appropriate for your specific needs.

Air cargo

  • The number and extent of global flight cancellations over the past few days has surpassed all expectations.
  • Demand for scheduled and charter freighters has rocketed, with impacts on rates and transit expectations driven by increased urgent air freight requirements and limited air fleets.
  • Full suspension of air travel in more and more countries means the pressure on freighter aircraft is enormous; airlines have withdrawn both flights and contract rates, so consignments will have to be managed and quoted at a consignment level.

UK logistics

  • The past week has proved that things can change very quickly within the UK, as the government moves to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • We continue to closely monitor developments and adapt our approach as demanded by the ever-evolving situation.
  • Metro has moved a hybrid model of on and off-site working across our UK sites as well as our outsourced facilities in Chennai and Malaysia. This ensures we maintain service levels and communications with all links in our supply chain, especially our customers.
  • More broadly, our robust business continuity planning ensures we continue to deliver the most appropriate solutions and services in the current global transport market.

Our Covid-19 Response Team meets twice daily to anticipate new challenges and adapt our responses to ensure we have the right solutions in place at all times.

Please contact us for any further advice or information, as we commit to maintaining contact with our customers as often as possible.

We are assessing the situation each day and will ensure you are kept informed of key developments that may impact the movement of your goods.