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Fracht Australia Logistics News - March 2024


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"Opportunities don’t happen. You create them."
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  • US AND UK LAUNCH STRIKES AGAINST HOUTHIS AFTER “LARGEST ATTACK TO DATE”.  The United States and United Kingdom launched strikes against Houthi military targets on Friday, 12 January in response to continued attacks against shipping in the Red Sea. Australia was one of four countries to have supported the strikes, alongside Bahrain, Canada and the Netherlands. Governments said the targets in Houthi-controlled areas were used by Houthis to attack ships. According to security specialist Risk Intelligence, the ongoing campaign of joint anti-Houthi military operations in Yemen and the Red Sea is starting to show results towards the second half of February, and had degraded Houthi missile stocks and launch capability to “maybe 50% to 60%”.
  • RECORD YEAR FOR CONTAINER THROUGHPUT IN SINGAPORE as vessel arrival tonnage exceed three billion gross tonnes in 2023, setting a record for the port. Last year’s vessel arrival tonnage of 3.09 billion GT was a 9.4% increase on figures reported in 2022. The port handled a total of 591.7 million tonnes of cargo in 2023, up from 578.2 million tonnes in 2022. Singapore’s container throughput in 2023 grew by 4.6% to a new high of 39 million TEU (Twenty Foot Equivalent Units), compared with the previous record of 37.6 million TEU in 2021.
  • ‘NERVOUSNESS’ AS CONTAINER SHORTAGE STARTS TO IMPACT INDIAN EXPORTERS. Apart from rocketing freight rates, Indian exporters face another supply chain challenge linked to the Red Sea crisis: equipment availability. A shortage of empty containers is building at major container ports and hinterland locations, freight forwarder sources told The Loadstar. They say equipment pressure is more pronounced at the ports of Nhava Sheva and Mundra, which together handle the lion’s share of India’s containerised ocean trade.
  • THE RECENT DECLINE IN VOLUMES ON THE US GULF AND EAST COASTS AND IN NORTHERN CANADA has not derailed port expansion plans. Designs for new container terminals on the lower Mississippi have taken steps forward, while the port of Prince Rupert is working on an export transfer facility as it awaits the outcome of a feasibility study for a container terminal that would nearly double its box capacity.
  • CONGESTION FEARS EASE AS EUROPE’S PORTS COPE WITH ARRIVAL OF DELAYED VESSELS. Container hub ports in North Europe appear to be coping well with the arrival of a cluster of ships from Asia, delayed after being re-routed around the African coast. Fears of a repeat of the severe port and landside congestion that plagued the hubs for months after the Ever Given’s six-day blockage of the Suez Canal in 2021 are so far proving unfounded.
  • CALIFORNIAN PORT WORKERS HAVE FILED TWO CLASS ACTION LAWSUITS against the Pacific Maritime Association, 27 named companies, including Maersk, APM Terminals and Cosco Shipping Terminals and a host of other, unnamed, firms. One class action is on behalf of 8,000 to 10,000 port staff, an attempt to recover sick pay, one-off pandemic wage payments and statutory penalties, under Californian laws. The case alleges “multiple violations of the Labor Code”.
  • EMISSIONS SOARING AS CARGO PATTERNS SHIFT DUE TO RED SEA CRISIS.  While shipping around the Cape of Good Hope has increased ship emissions, by adding distance and voyage duration, uncertainty in maritime supply chains has led to a shift toward air cargo for some shippers. This has created a massive secondary increase in CO2, which dwarfs that of the extended shipping route. The Loadstar has shared data from Sea Routes suggesting emissions from a vessel travelling around the Cape could be some 27% higher per TEU than going via the Suez Canal.



  • THE DREWRY WORLD CONTAINER INDEX INCREASED BY 15% at the beginning of January. The composite index has increased 44% when compared with the same week last year. The latest WCI is the highest since October 2022 and is 116% more than average 2019 (pre-pandemic) rates. The Drewry WCI measures ocean freight rate movements of 40-foot containers in seven significant maritime trade lanes.
  • PANAMA CANAL HEADACHES NOT SO PAINFUL FOR THE BOX SHIPS, BUT COSTS WILL RISE. Containerships are proving less vulnerable to Panama Canal draught restrictions than other shipping sectors, but the resulting overall supply chain costs are expected to be significant. Daily transit and weight restrictions have been imposed on ships transiting the canal since last March in a bid to preserve water levels after drops caused by higher temperatures, a delayed rainy season and the El Nino weather phenomenon. Analysis from Drewry estimates that, while monthly data from the Panama Canal Authority shows the number of transits across all commercial shipping sectors is declining, containerships are growing their share of the slots. However, Drewry also noted that major challenges remained. Overall, containerships saw daily transits fall to an average of 7.4 in both November and December, down from 8.4 in October.
  • MAERSK WELCOMED ITS FIRST LARGE METHANOL-ENABLED CONTAINER VESSEL ‘ANE MAERSK’ with a ceremony at the HD Hyundai Heavy Industries shipyard in South Korea. Ane Maersk is the first of Maersk’s 18 large methanol-enabled vessels slated for delivery between 2024 and 2025. According to Maersk, it is the world’s second methanol-enabled container vessel. The ship entered service in early February on the AE7 string connecting Asia and Europe.
  • HAPAG-LLOYD ILLUSTRATED THE ECONOMIC STRAIN shipping lines felt last year in its preliminary business figures for 2023. Despite the German carrier seeing a rise in transport volumes of 0.5%, to 11.9m TEU, it reported total revenue decreased by $17bn over the year, to $19.4bn, down 46.7% from 2022’s $36.4bn. However, it said the “significant decrease in earnings” had been expected and attributed the loss to lower freight rates – its average freight rate fell 48% year on year.
  • NAUTICAL SHIPPING LOADS UP GRIMALDI. Nautical Shipping, an agency subsidiary of the Gold Coast-based Leeward Group, has been appointed to provide exclusive Australian representation for Italy’s Grimaldi Group. Founded in 1947, the Grimaldi Group specialises in the operation of roll-on/roll-off vessels, PCTCs (Pure Car Truck Carrier) and ferries and has an owned fleet of over 130 ships. Entering the Australian trade in late 2022, and seeing the potential for growth within the Australian market, the Neapolitan group began seeking a full-service Australian commercial partner, resulting in Nautical Shipping’s appointment.
  • OCEAN NETWORK EXPRESS (ONE) CLEANS UP WITH AMMONIA NOD. Japan’s Ocean Network Express has moved closer to placing orders for ammonia dual-fuel containerships after achieving approval-in-principle for a 3,500 TEU prototype. ONE has been studying the feasibility of ammonia as an alternative fuel for zero emission according to the roadmap for alternative fuels which was developed in 2022.
  • OCEAN NETWORK EXPRESS HAS REPORTED A 46% DECREASE IN REVENUE for the third quarter of 2023. The carrier’s third-quarter EBITDA dropped 94% compared with the same reporting period in 2022, and its EBIT plunged by 109%. ONE said sluggish consumption growth, a decrease in cargo movement during low season and an influx of new ships contributed to further softening of the supply and demand trend and low-level, short-term freight rates. 


  • NEWCASTLE INTERNATIONAL TERMINAL IS TAKING SHAPE as construction is progressing on a new international terminal. The federal government committed $55 million for the terminal expansion project and border facilities in April 2022. Construction began in July last year. Newcastle Airport said the new terminal would support the Hunter region’s imports and exports by accommodating larger aircraft with bigger freight loads.
  • AIR CARGO DEMAND SURGES IN DECEMBER AMID RED SEA DISRUPTIONS. International Air Transport Association (IATA) reported a particularly strong fourth quarter performance despite economic uncertainties, with a 10.8% surge in December closing 2023 near 2022 levels. Full-year demand reached a level slightly below that of 2022 and 2019. Global full-year demand in 2023, measured in cargo tonne-kilometres, was down 1.9% compared with 2022. Compared with 2019, it was down 3.6%. Capacity in 2023, measured in available cargo tonne-kilometres, was 11.3% above 2022. December 2023 saw an “exceptionally strong” performance: global demand was 10.8% above 2022 levels, which was the strongest annual growth performance over the past two years. Asia-Pacific airlines posted a 0.9% increase in demand in 2023 compared with 2022 and a capacity increase of 28.5%. In December, airlines in the region recorded the best performance of all regions, posting an 18.5% increase in demand compared with 2022. Capacity increased 31.1% during the same period.
  • INDIA HAS LIBERALISED ITS AVIATION POLICY to permit foreign cargo airlines to operate out of all its international airports – a mandate lasting three years. “The open sky policy for foreign cargo carriers has been reviewed by the government,” said India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Under restrictions imposed in 2020 among Covid-related protocols, ad-hoc freighter operations by foreign carriers were allowed only from the six major airports – Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Kolkata and Hyderabad. 



  • MUA WITHDRAWS ALL INDUSTRIAL ACTION AT DP WORLD TERMINALS as an in-principle agreement has been reached at the Fair Work Commission, bringing months of protected industrial action to an end. The agreement was announced on 2 February at the conclusion of three days of facilitated negotiations before the FWC. The MUA began industrial action at DP World’s Australian terminals in October 2023 after negotiations for a new enterprise bargaining agreement collapsed.
  • SCHEDULES BEGIN TO NORMALISE AFTER DPW / MUA PEACE. Containership schedules returned to normal faster than expected following the settlement of the prolonged DP World / Maritime Union of Australia dispute.  Carriers contacted by Daily Cargo News expressed “pleasant surprise” about the speed of the recovery, with one saying “DPW have picked up quite well with anticipated delays better than initially anticipated”. “We are expecting schedules to return to normal across the next 2-4 weeks depending on the service,” another said, while a third described the situation as “spotty but vastly improved”.
  • CONSTRUCTION COMPLETE ON BOTANY RAIL DUPLICATION and Cabramatta Loop Project. The Botany Rail Duplication project has duplicated the remaining 2.9-kilometre section of single line track between Mascot and Port Botany, including the construction of four new and replacement rail bridges.  The Cabramatta Loop Project has provided a 1.65-kilometre section of new track, adjacent to the existing track, allowing freight trains travelling in opposite directions to pass each other, and the construction of new bridge structures and track realignment.
  • SOUTH AUSTRALIAN EXPORTS HIT RECORD LEVELS. South Australian exports grew 12% in the 12 months through November last year, reaching a value of $17.9 billion, according to the latest data available from the state. China is South Australia’s biggest export destination, with the value of goods going from the state to the country increasing 46% year-on-year to $3.2 billion. South Australia welcomed China’s recent removal of trade impediments on products such as barley, and the South Australian government has continued to advocate for eased restrictions on lobster and wine.
  • NEWCASTLE TRADE VALUE DROPS 32% IN 2023 despite an increase in yearly trade volumes.  The port said a shift in weather and demand has had a “significant impact” on its 2023 trade results. Total trade volume for the year came to 152.9 million tonnes, which was a 6% increase compared with 2022 volumes. Trade value dropped to $48 billion.
  • ELECTRICTIANS AT DP WORLD’S BRISBANE TERMINAL continue not to work as they strike for a better pay deal. The two parties failed to meet on Friday, 23 February to continue negotiations for the new enterprise agreement. Electricians at DP World’s Brisbane terminal have been on strike since Thursday, 22 February. A DP World spokesperson confirmed late on 26 February that negotiations couldn’t continue until electricians go back to work for at least 24 hours. Deputy secretary of the Queensland and Northern Territory branch of the Electrical Trades Union, Scott Reichman told DCN on Friday his workers were keen to “escalate the campaign”. DP World Brisbane and the Electrical Trades Union have been in negotiations since October. 


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