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Summary for January 21 - January 25, 2008:
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Monday, January 21, 2008

Amtrak, nine unions settle contract

 A TENTATIVE agreement on new contract terms was reached Jan 18 between Amtrak and a coalition of nine unions, thus averting a possible strike. The union members had been working without a contract for eight years.

 The tentative agreement is subject to membership ratification. Each union will hold separate and independent membership ratification votes, according to a union press release.

 Amtrak President and CEO Alex Kummant said, “Investing in the railroad comes in many forms, and one of the best ways is to invest in its people, which we’ve done with this tentative agreement.”

 Kummant added, “I want to thank the leadership of the labor organizations. It has not been easy for any of us, and I know they share our sense of relief and resolve … .”

 The union coalition is comprised of the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division of the Teamsters Union (BMWED), the Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), the National Conference of Firemen and Oilers (SEIU), the American Train Dispatchers Association (ATDA), the Transportation Communications Union (TCU), the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), and the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

 Web site:



Management changes at Panalpina

 THE SWISS logistics group Panalpina Jan 21 announced that John Klompers, chief marketing and sales officer and member of the company’s executive board, is leaving Panalpina to pursue other professional challenges after having been with the company for 13 years.

 “Klompers has been released from his current responsibilities by mutual agreement,” the company said in a news release, which praised Klompers for “his great effort and contribution.”

 The company added that “a decision related to this position will be taken after the current review of group structures has been finalized.”

 Panalpina also announced that two key management positions reporting directly to CEO Monika Ribar have been filled.

 Dr. Joachim Schäfer will join Panalpina from Deutsche Post, effective Feb 1, as head of the enlarged corporate development function, which includes global responsibility for mergers and acquisitions transactions.

 Markus Heyer, the former head of business processes and quality at Panalpina, has been appointed corporate compliance officer, effective Jan 1, 2008.

 The Panalpina Group is a leading supplier of forwarding and logistics services, specializing in intercontinental air freight and ocean freight shipments.

 Web site:



ACL gets 6-yr, $100mn contract

 AMERICAN Commercial Lines Inc. Jan 17 announced that it has entered into a six-year, multi-vessel contract to build both liquid and dry cargo barges. The contract is for approximately $100mn.

 The inland barge operator, headquartered in Jeffersonville, IN, said the contract is with “a major customer,” but declined to disclose the name. Construction will begin in 2008, according to the press release.

 Commenting on the order, Jerry Linzey, ACL COO, stated, “This agreement reflects our commitment to grow within existing markets, supports our strategic manufacturing goals, and fully leverages the manufacturing capacity of the shipyard.”

 American Commercial Lines is an integrated marine transportation and service company operating in the United States Jones Act trades, with approximately $940mn in annual revenues and 2,750 employees, according to the news release.

 Web site:

 American Commercial Lines Inc.



Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Maersk Line sets new BAF formula

 MAERSK Line Jan 21 announced it has introduced a new formula for its floating BAF (Bunker Adjustment Factor).

 Citing bunker prices that “have tripled” within the last three years, the company said its customers “increasingly accept that we must share the extraordinary costs in a just way.”

 The company’s aim, Maersk said, is to provide a simple, fair, and transparent BAF for its customers.

 “Today, we only recover approximately 55% of the bunker expenses via BAF surcharges. Naturally, this poses a significant exposure to Maersk Line, and traditionally we have tried to recover this via rate increases,” said Vincent Clerc, vice president for Pacific Services.

 “With Maersk Line’s BAF formula, we will create more transparency, and our customers will experience a simple and fair way of applying BAF,” Clerc added.

 All trades will make announcements on the company Web site when they transition to the new BAF formula beginning 1Q2008, the company said. It expects to complete the rollout by Jan 1, 2009.

 Only changes in the oil price will entail changes in the BAF level, Maersk pledged.

 Web site:

 Maersk Line


Cargo ship sets kite (err, sail)

 AT 1600 GMT Jan 22, the MV Beluga Skysails — the world’s first commercial cargo ship partially powered by a giant kite — is scheduled to set off on its maiden voyage from Bremerhaven to Venezuela and back.

 The Beluga SkySails is equipped with a 1,722-sq-ft, computer-controlled kite. In the course of the coming year, when the sail is scaled up to 3,444 sq ft, potential fuel savings of 20%-30% are definitely feasible and realistic, Beluga Shipping GmbH said.

 “The maiden voyage marks the beginning of the practical testing during regular shipping operations of the SkySails System,” said Stephan Wrage, managing director of SkySails GmbH, in partnership with Beluga Shipping.

 “During the next few months we will finally be able to prove that our technology works in practice and significantly reduces fuel consumption and emissions,” Wrage said.

 Beluga Shipping said that the ship opens a new chapter in shipping history.

 “The new vessel will be practical proof that the hybrid propulsion system is possible on water and is able to achieve what many felt was absurd in this combination, i.e., reducing emission and at the same time lowering the voyage costs.”

 Web sites:

 Beluga Shipping GmbH

 SkySails GmbH

DP World throughput up 18%

 GLOBAL marine terminal operator DP World Jan 21 announced that it handled more than 43.3mn TEUs across its portfolio of 42 terminals last year — an increase of 18% compared to 2006.

 Growth across all three reporting regions continued strongly in 2007. The Middle East, Europe, and Africa regions grew 19% in 2007 compared with 2006, the company said.

 Terminals in the UAE increased throughput by 19% to 1mn TEUs, with the two Dubai ports of Jebel Ali and Port Rashid combined growing 20% to reach 10.7mn TEUs.

 DP World Jebel Ali alone grew more than 25%, reaching 9.9mn TEUs. This was due to new vessel calls as well as the opening of a new second terminal at the port in the second half of 2007, the announcement said.

 CEO Mohammad Sharaf said in a statement that the company’s growth is ahead of global container trade growth estimated at 10.8% a year.

 “Our portfolio is well-balanced and designed to meet the needs of our customers and of world trade today and tomorrow,” Sharaf said.

 Web page:

 DP World


Thursday, January 24, 2008

California AG Secretary pitches to Cuba

 CALIFORNIA Agriculture Secretary Arthur Kawamura announced from Havana that he is in the Cuban capital on an exploratory mission and to foster sales to Cuba of products from California, the Cuban news agency Prensa Latina reported Jan 23.

 Kawamura was accompanied by a delegation of 20 businesspeople from California. Among the aims of his visit is to learn about Cuban agriculture and exchange experiences, Kawamura said.

 “This is the first time a delegation from that California department visits the island,” Kawamura told the press at Havana’s Hotel Nacional. Also attending the press conference was Pedro Alvarez, president of Cuba’s food importing company, ALIMPORT.

 In statements to Prensa Latina, Kawamura termed the Cuban market interesting and of important potential, especially given its advantage of geographic proximity.

 The California agriculture secretary said there are some 400 agricultural products to trade, among them cotton, wheat, and vegetables.  Kawamura stressed that California is the main US agricultural producer and exports a quarter of the volume it grows.

 Alvarez commented that US food trade with Cuba takes place only one way, restricted by the economic blockade that the US imposes on the island of Cuba, according to the news article.

 Web site:

 Prensa Latina


NW Ports Clean Air Strategy adopted

 THE PORT of Seattle Commission Jan 23 voted to adopt the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, a joint effort to reduce seaport-related air emissions with the Port of Tacoma and the Vancouver Fraser Port Authority.

 Initially released in May of last year, the Clean Air Strategy is the culmination of input from the three ports, major stakeholders, environmental groups, and local citizens throughout the region.

 The Clean Air Strategy “marks the first such international cooperative effort in the port community — one that will hopefully be embraced by others across North America,” said the port.

 The port commission also authorized a resolution that aligns the organization’s seaport environmental goals with those of the Port of Tacoma.

“While we have much work ahead of us in terms of the implementation of the emissions reduction goals, I am extremely pleased with the commission’s vote today,” said John Creighton, president of the port commission.

 The overall goal is to reduce diesel and greenhouse gas emissions in the region by achieving early reductions in advance of, and complementary to, applicable regulations, the port said.

 Web site:

 Port of Seattle


PHA OKs $74mn second Bayport wharf

 THE PORT Commission of the Port of Houston Authority Jan 22 approved $74mn for construction of an additional wharf at the Bayport Terminal complex.

 The contract for the proposed 1,330-ft wharf, including associated dredging and material disposal on site, likely will be awarded in March and construction could begin in the summer, said H. Thomas Kornegay, PHA executive director.  

 Additionally, the commission approved $9mn for the purchase of unleaded gasoline and Texas low-emission diesel fuel for Barbours Cut Terminal, Bayport Container Terminal, and Turning Basin Terminal and two storage fuel tanks for Barbours Cut Terminal for a two-year period.

 Kornegay also gave PHA’s year-end review, noting its eighth consecutive year of record-breaking revenue in 2007.

 Kornegay highlighted eight system-wide priority areas in which PHA achieved record-breaking success: economic impact; premier container, cargo, and cruise port; financial strength; safe and secure port; improving facilities and waterways; environmental protector, steward; strong community, industry, and government relations; and a strong workplace.

 “We could not have reached this achievement without the leadership of our dedicated port commissioners and port staff,” Kornegay said.

 Web site:

 Port of Houston Authority


Friday, January 25, 2008

Wal-Mart sets course for future

 WAL-MART Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, has ambitious plans to take a leadership role in energy, trade, and health care costs, according to a speech given Jan 23 by CEO H. Lee Scott Jr. to more than 7,000 Wal-Mart store managers in Kansas City.

 The company holds a convention center meeting at the start of every year to look at new products and sales plans for the year ahead. This year marks the first time that Wal-Mart has opened the annual meeting to reporters.

 Scott said that Wal-Mart will begin working with major American employers to help them manage and pay prescription drug claims, push for more energy-saving products for Wal-Mart shoppers, and launch an effort with other major retailers to improve social, ethical, and environmental standards among its global suppliers.

 In his remarks, Scott said that “we live in a time when people are losing confidence in the ability of government to solve problems. But at Wal-Mart, we don’t see the sidelines that politicians see. And we do not wait for someone else to solve problems that might hurt our business or affect our customers.”

 Scott called on other major retailers to join a global network of retailers and consumer goods companies, led by a Paris organization, CIES, that is developing socially conscious manufacturing standards.

 “We believe there should be one framework of social and environmental standards for all major global retailers,” he said.

 Web site:



Panama Canal hikes service fees

 THE PANAMA Canal Authority (ACP) Jan 25 announced revised fees for tug, locomotive, and linehandling services to begin Mar 1.

 The canal authority said the decision, made by the Republic of Panama’s Cabinet Council on the recommendation of the Panama Canal Authority’s Board of Directors, was due to “rising operating costs brought about by fuel hikes.”

 Rates for tug services will increase 8%; rates for linehandling services will rise 7%, according to the announcement.

 Additionally, a $300-per-wire fee will be charged for ancillary locomotive services, up from a $200-per-wire fee (wires are attached to the locomotives to ensure that the vessels stay centered as they transit through the locks).

 Vessels that exceed ACP visibility requirements will now have applied a rate of $4,000 when the information is submitted at least 48 hours prior to its arrival and a rate of $8,000 otherwise, according to the announcement.

 New nominal fees related to other marine services “that have not been updated for years,” such as admeasurement, transit vessel inspection, safety and security, launches, and Automatic Identification System (AIS) rentals, will increase 7% on average.

 Web site:

 Panama Canal Authority


Freight RRs, UTU reach agreement

 THE NATION’S major freight railroads and the United Transportation Union Jan 23 reached tentative agreement on a new contract covering wages, benefits, and other issues, according to a news release from the National Railway Labor Conference.

 “With the ratification of this agreement by the nation’s largest rail union, the industry will have successfully concluded negotiations with unions representing 95% of unionized freight rail workers,” the NRLC statement said.

 UTU, which represents more than 44,000 members, or about a third of the railroads’ unionized workforce, began negotiating with the railroads shortly after the current round of bargaining began in November 2004.

 The agreement, which now goes before UTU members for ratification, includes a 17% wage increase retroactive to Jan. 1, 2005, through Dec 31, 2009.

 More than 30 railroads, including BNSF, CSX, Kansas City Southern, Norfolk Southern, and Union Pacific, participated in the bargaining.

 The NRLC is a not-for-profit association and represents member railroads in dealing with representatives of organized employees on a national level, including in matters involving railroad labor relations and health and welfare benefits.

 Web sites:

 United Transportation Union

 National Railway Labor Conference

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