Date: 05.11.2020

Inbound freight situation update

The UK’s supply chains are facing unparalleled challenges and some links are buckling under the strain. The following is a transcript of a customer advisory issued by Metro Shipping on Tuesday……..

The COVID pandemic continues to impact global and domestic freight in the most profound ways, slashing air and sea carrier capacity and driving rates up, while diminishing performance at origin and destination.

Metro is working tirelessly to keep our customers’ supply chains running as smoothly as possible, by providing visibility through our MVT platform, avoiding, or working round choke points and looking for alternative solutions when traditional options are no longer viable.

You can help us help you avoid unnecessary disruption and delay, by providing forecasts and making bookings at the earliest possible time, with ideally 4 weeks visibility. When we can see your volumes and deadlines, we can find the most effective options and best fit solutions.

We outline below the current situation and the most significant challenges impacting the movement of goods into the UK and Europe by air and sea.

The original Coronavirus outbreak in early 2020, in China, prompted shipping lines from the Far East and Indian Sub-continent to begin blanking sailings as factories began closing across Asia, with even deeper cuts to capacity, as the pandemic spread to US and Europe prompting long lockdowns.

When supply chains reopened in the early Summer, most global airlines were grounded, and the shipping lines schedules were in tatters, with empty equipment out of position, leading to a fight for air capacity that continues and the world’s shipping lines with half their volume out of circulation.

The UK’s primary air ports and sea port’s have been struggling to deal with the post-lockdown import spikes, which are particularly pronounced on the sea freight side, while simultaneously having their operational capability reduced, because workers are missing and COVID-safe working practices mean that less work can be completed in a working day. Restricting the ability of carriers, hauliers and service providers to deliver cargo on time.

The traditional pre-Christmas ‘peak’ season would be over by now, but lockdowns have impacted demand and changed ordering patterns, which is extending the ‘peak’ period and means that space on vessels and aircraft out of Asia remains at a premium and the acute equipment shortages continue. 

The UK’s ports struggles with high volumes, congestion and reduced operational capability is likely to continue into the New Year and made worse in the short-term, by software failures, woeful schedule reliability, vessel diversions, shortage of drivers/ hauliers, rail space and off dock storage. 

By working collaboratively, during these demanding times, we can continue to overcome your challenges, doing everything possible to keep your supply chain moving.

In addition to the ongoing conditions of the past 7/8 months we are now faced with a second national and possible European wide lockdown. This will have undoubtedly further impact on the market and shipping trade. We are constantly monitoring and managing our own internal and external resources and platforms to ensure that we continue to deliver on expectations.

We will keep you updated with these ad hoc bulletins, our regular newsletters (please advise if you are not receiving and we will add you to the audience), our CRM department activity and of course through your day to day contacts at Metro. 

For any further information, please do not hesitate to contact your Metro team and your key account manager.