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Monday, April 19, 2010

Top Story

Airlines criticize EU over volcanic air crisis

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) issued a sharp criticism today of European governments for what the air group said was “their lack of leadership in handling airspace restrictions in light of the Icelandic volcano eruption and urged a re-think of the decision-making process.”

The airlines’ cargo and passenger sectors are entering the fifth day of the EU flight ban that has impacted of most of Europe with volcanic ash clouds.

"The ash plume is very low. It's not much higher than 2 kilometres," Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson, a geologist at the Meteorological Office, told Reuters.

Major airlines have been flying test flights with some of the feedback of those pilots reportedly saying it's safe to fly.

“We are far enough into this crisis to express our dissatisfaction on how governments have managed it-with no risk assessment, no consultation, no coordination, and no leadership. This crisis is costing airlines at least $200 million a day in lost revenues and the European economy is suffering billions of dollars in lost business. In the face of such dire economic consequences, it is incredible that Europe’s transport ministers have taken five days to organize a teleconference,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA’s director general and CEO.

“Governments must place greater urgency and focus on how and when we can safely re-open Europe’s skies. This means decisions based on risk-management, facts and utilizing operational procedures that maintain safety,” said Bisignani.

One of IATA’s primary criticisms is over the EU methodology of closing airspace based on theoretical modeling of the ash cloud.

“This means that governments have not taken their responsibility to make clear decisions based on facts. Instead, it has been the air navigation service providers who announced that they would not provide service. And these decisions have been taken without adequately consulting the airlines. This is not an acceptable system particularly when the consequences for safety and the economy are so large,” said Bisignani.

The airline association said the scale of airspace closures currently seen in Europe is unprecedented.

“We have seen volcanic activity in many parts of the world but rarely has it resulted in airspace closures—and never at this scale. When Mount St. Helens erupted in the US in 1980, we did not see large scale disruptions, because the decisions to open or close airspace were risk managed with no compromise on safety,” said Bisignani.

East and West Coast box ports registered upticks for March

From Virginia to Southern California, there were some promising signs of containerized recovery for the month of March.

The Virginia Ports Authority (VPA) reported March 2010 container volume of 167,262 TEUs at its Hampton Roads facilities, an increase of 22.3 percent year on year.

"We're cautiously optimistic about the trend we're seeing," said the port authority’s spokesperson Joe Harris In an interview with the Virginian Pilot.

Meanwhile, the two major Southern California ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, posted improved cargo-handling numbers for the fourth straight month in March.

The Port of Long Beach increased 13 percent in March to 422,774 TEUs compared to the same period last year. The port’s exports were up 10.9 percent to 130,495 TEUs.

At the Port of Los Angeles, the busiest U.S. container port, exports there increased 15.8 percent over March 2009, thanks in part to cargoes such as scrap paper, scrap metal, agricultural products and finished manufactured goods, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The port’s total containerized numbers for March 2010 came in at 550,249 TEUs, compared to 526,487 TEUs for the same period in 2009.

Maersk launches Halifax-Rotterdam seafood service

Halifax in Nova Scotia to Rotterdam to meet growing demand for transport of live shellfish, Maersk and its partner Aqualife said. Since 2005 Maersk Line, which belongs to Danish oil and shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk, and Aqualife have been working together to develop patented transport systems for live seafood.

Aqualife is the marketing and branding arm of the partnership, while Maersk Line provides the tanks, containers, vessels and global transport network. The partners hold the patents jointly.


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Australia to crack down on shipping through Barrier Reef

Australia is planning to subject commercial ships passing through all parts of the Great Barrier Reef to greater surveillance.
The tough new measures are intended to protect the region from pollution.

It follows the grounding of the Chinese bulk carrier, the Shen Neng I, which leaked about three tons of oil into the sea after hitting a sandbank.

The Chinese coal carrier ran aground in restricted waters around the reef earlier this month.

-BBC News

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Top Story

Container-shipping partners rename as “Green Alliance”

In the aftermath of a summit in China, the CKYH Alliance of COSCO, 'K' Line, Yang Ming and Hanjin, announced the world’s largest group of container-shipping lines would be renamed the "Green Alliance" in order to convey the members’ environmentally sustainable practices.

The new Green Alliance issued a statement declaring the group’s "collective efforts of implementing 'green shipping' in order to well fulfilling the responsibilities of corporate citizenship”

“Members will take further measures such as eco-steaming for energy-saving and emission reduction," the Alliance said.

"All members will take positive action to take full advantage of regional transhipment hubs, build extensive feeder networks, extend cooperation to the north-south trades and emerging markets, widen the scope of cooperation to other sections of the transport chain by optimizing the alliance's resources such as terminals, chassis, inter-modal facilities and equipment,” they said.

"CKYH Alliance members, being all fully aware of the severe challenges in the 'post-crisis' era, re-affirmed to further strengthen the collaborative partnership and confirmed the direction of future development," the group said.

Opening statements today in L.A.’s clean truck battle

The battle over whether the Port of Los Angeles can regulate trucks that haul goods in and out of its property is heading to court.

Opening statements are scheduled to begin Tuesday in a federal lawsuit pitting the trucking industry against the port over a portion of the Clean Truck Program. It was launched in October 2008 to reduce diesel emissions by banning the dirtiest trucks from carrying port cargo.

The American Trucking Association says it supports clean air goals, but it opposes a rule that prohibits truck companies from contracting with independent drivers. Critics say the rule is a veiled attempt to organize labor at the port.

Supporters say the rule is needed to sustain the costly program.

-San Jose Mercury News/AP

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IMF cuts total loss of financial crisis by 18 percent

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has cut its estimate of the total cost of the global financial crisis to $2.3 trillion (£1.5 trillion). The new estimate represents an 18% cut on the IMF's previous calculation of $2.8 trillion.

In a separate report, the IMF also said that government debt now posed the biggest threat to the financial system, which remains "fragile".

Otherwise markets and the economy were "slowly regaining their health."

-BBC News

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Canada’s Feds to halt infrastructure spending by March of next year

The Canadian Construction Association has warned its members to beware of March 31, 2011, when the flow of money from the federal Infrastructure Stimulus Fund and the Knowledge Infrastructure Program is due to stop.

The issue raised by the CCA focuses on who will pay when infrastructure work is not completed by March 31 next year and may be unfunded.

The industry believes after a year of slow build-up, Infrastructure Fund projects will move into real action in May and peak this summer. The Parliamentary Budget Office says at the top governments will be spending $700 million a month on stimulus projects, tapering off as the March 31 deadline approaches.

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Kuehne + Nagel launches LCL services in Asia Pacific

KUEHNE + NAGEL announced the logistics group has launched a series of less-than-container-load (LCL) services in the Asia Pacific region.

Services in the Southern China’s Pearl River Delta are from Hong Kong to Busan twice weekly on Mondays/Saturdays and Fridays/Tuesdays; between Shenzhen-Yantian and Busan they are twice weekly on Thursdays/Saturdays - Mondays/Tuesdays; between Hong Kong and Riga, they are weekly on Mondays and Sundays; between Shenzhen-Yantian and Riga Weekly on Thursdays and Sundays, and between Hong Kong and Chittagong the service is weekly on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Services out of Singapore are to Tokyo weekly on Mondays; between Singapore and Osaka on Mondays; between Singapore and Kobe on Mondays; between Singapore and Bratislava weekly on Mondays and Thursdays and from Singapore to Kiev bi-weekly on Sundays and Fridays.

The company said there also LCL services from Shanghai to Busan weekly on Wednesdays and Fridays, between Shanghai and Ancona weekly on Mondays and Sundays, as well as services from Ningbo to Le Havre weekly on Fridays and Saturdays, and from Huangpu to Riga weekly on Tuesdays and Sundays; between Busan and Manzanillo, (MX) weekly on Tuesdays and Wednesdays; between Kaohsiung and New York weekly Fridays and Thursdays.

Kuehne + Nagel said the LCL services can connect to the company’s in-house NVOCC Blue Anchor Line that includes sailings between ports in Asia, New Zealand, US, Mexico and Europe as well as fixed-day, twice-weekly, weekly, and fortnightly.


Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Top Story

U.S. exports to China strong despite recession in `09

Exports to China from U.S. states hit close to $70 billion in 2009, only a slight drop of .02 percent from the previous year, according to statistics released by the U.S. China Business Council (USCBC).

Exports from the U.S. to the rest of the world combined fell nearly 20 percent in 2009, reported the USCBC’s fourth annual survey of state exports.

Nineteen U.S. states exceeded $1 billion in sales, the survey said. California remains the nation’s export leader to China with $9.7 billion in exports for 2009, with Washington State at $9.1 billion and Texas at $8.9 billion. The top U.S. exports to China were computers and electronics, agricultural products, chemicals, and transportation equipment.

"In the midst of a global recession, China continued to prove itself an important export market for U.S. manufacturers and farmers," said John Frisbie, president of the USCBC.

“As President Obama has said, exports mean jobs--and China is one of our best markets,” Frisbie said.
China is the third-largest US export market, after Canada and Mexico.

“As we predicted last year, there was a decline in U.S. exports in 2009 as a whole,” Frisbie said.

“But China outperformed as an export market for U.S. goods, despite the recession. In fact, as the year came to a close, U.S. exports to China set monthly records in November and December and continued strong growth in the first two months of 2010,” Frisbie said.
Exports from the U.S. to China through February were up 55 percent over the same period in 2009, according to the USCBC.

“There is no disagreement that China needs an exchange rate that better responds to China’s global trade flows,” Frisbie said. “But assertions that China’s exchange rate is at the root of U.S. job losses are built on the faulty assumption that every product imported from China would have been made in the U.S. otherwise. That’s simply not plausible,” he said.

The USCBC refuted the charges that China's currency policies make U.S. products less competitive by stating: “U.S. companies continue to make high-quality products and sell them to China. U.S. manufacturing and agricultural exports to China have jumped 330 percent since China joined the World Trade Organization nearly a decade ago, far outpacing the 29 percent growth in US exports to the rest of the world,” the USCBC said.

“The Obama administration has set an ambitious goal of doubling U.S. exports in the next five years,” Frisbie said. “Continuing our phenomenal growth in exports to China will be essential to meeting that target.”

Shots fired over both bows on first day of Clean Truck lawsuit

A trucking association challenging the Clean Trucks Program at the Port of Los Angeles argued Tuesday that a provision banning independent drivers will "dramatically change how work is done at the port."

The port, however, defended its disputed program in federal court, insisting it's necessary to ensure that the docks are no longer the place "where old trucks go to die."

Both sides squared off on the first day of trial in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles before Judge Christina Snyder, who will decide whether the Port of Los Angeles can legally limit the types of drivers entering terminals.

The American Trucking Associations has requested a permanent injunction to block the port's concession agreements, including a provision that would require freight haulers to hire employee drivers rather than independent owner-operators by 2013.

-The Daily Breeze

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U.S.D.O.T. makes $48 bil available for state highway funds

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that $48.8 billion in highway funds is now available to state departments of transportation for federal projects through the Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act.

“With spring and summer highway construction seasons just beginning, these funds will help make it easier for states to put people back to work and begin long-term projects,” said Secretary LaHood.

The HIRE Act, which was signed into law last month, included a provision that extended funding authority for surface transportation programs through December 31, 2010. The law provides $40.1 billion from the Highway Trust Fund for highway programs for FY 2010.

The U.S.D.O.T. said the HIRE Act restores $8.7 billion to state D.O.T.s that was rescinded last year due to a provision in the “Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users” (SAFETEA-LU), surface transportation program authorizing legislation enacted in 2005.

SAFETEA-LU expired September 30, 2009, and since then, Congress has passed a series of small, short-term funding extensions based on SAFETEA-LU.

The U.S.D.O.T. said the provision included in the HIRE Act that extended highway programs through the end of this year now allows the Administration time to work with Congress on a more comprehensive, long-term authorization proposal.

New York-New Jersey port authority’s bond rating upgraded

An upgrade of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s bond rating was one of the few bright spots cited in a report by Moody’s Investors Service today that painted an otherwise gloomy picture of the overall municipal credit market during the first quarter of 2010.

The Port Authority’s March upgrade was by one notch, from Aa3 to Aa2, and applies to the agency’s total debt burden of $12.4 billion.

-New Jersey Star-Ledger

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Pirate attacks fell 34 percent in Q1

Pirate attacks around the world fell by 34 percent in the first quarter of 2010 from a year ago due to the continued presence of foreign navies in the Gulf of Aden, a maritime watchdog said on Wednesday.

The London headquartered International Maritime Bureau (IMB) said its piracy reporting center in Kuala Lumpur logged a total of 67 incidents from January to March this year. There were 102 incidents in the first three months of last year.

The total number of attacks hit a six-year high of 406 last year.

-Washington Post/Reuters

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Top Story

Union Pacific earnings leapt 43 percent in Q1

Union Pacific Corp. reported a 43 percent jump in first-quarter earnings on Thursday as business volumes gained for the first time in two years, and the No. 1 railroad offered an optimistic outlook for a continuing economic recovery.

"What a difference a year makes," Union Pacific Chairman Jim Young told analysts in a conference call. "We are feeling better about our opportunities."

Operating revenue for the first quarter was $4 billion, up from $3.4 billion a year earlier and the company's operating ratio of 75.1 percent was the best ever for the first quarter.


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Port of Tacoma intermodal volumes up 20 percent for March

The Port of Tacoma announced it handled a total of 30,716 intermodal container lifts at its four intermodal yards, up 20 percent from the same period last year, and the most handled for the past 18 months.

The port reported increases in both international and domestic intermodal rail volumes in March, citing its intermodal rail incentive program, which encourages the use of rail for short-haul containers, and the new Union Pacific domestic service that is bringing new container volumes through the South Intermodal Rail Yard.

The port said its March year-to-date intermodal volumes are down about 2 percent from 2009.

Philly port strikes auto-handling deal with Hyundai, Kia

Philadelphia's port authority has made a deal to handle 150,000 South Korean cars being imported to the U.S. each year.

Under an agreement announced Wednesday, the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority will process vehicles from automakers Hyundai and Kia.

Gov. Ed Rendell and Mayor Michael Nutter praised the deal, which is expected to create about 270 jobs at the port and about 130 more in other industries.

The deal will bring about 100 more cargo ships to the port each year. Cars will begin arriving in Philadelphia in June.


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Amway opens third global logistics hub in Busan

Direct selling giant Amway plans to open its Asian logistics hub in Busan as part of its efforts to set up an innovative and efficient product supply chain management system in the fast-growing Asian region.

Amway Korea said Thursday that it would hold an opening ceremony at the nation's largest port city on May 22 and central government bureaucrats as well as Busan officials will attend.

The facility, dubbed the Amway Asia Logistics Hub, is the U.S.-based firm's third distribution center, following its head office in Ada, Michigan and another one in the Netherlands.

The Busan hub is projected to handle an annual volume of 8,000 TEU, or twenty-foot equivalent units, of freight.

-Korea Times

Volcanic repercussions: Three-to-four-week backlog for Singapore’s exporters

Singapore companies Thursday scrambled to clear a backlog of cargo including orchids and ornamental fish as Europe opened its airspace after the threat of ash clouds from a volcano eased.

One Singapore firm urgently needs a cargo of ship spare parts to arrive from Europe to avoid vessels sitting idle in the city-state, a major trans-shipment port.

Steven Lee, chairman of the Singapore Aircargo Agents' Association estimated it would take at least three to four weeks to clear the backlog.

Too Peng San, president of the Singapore Flower Exporters' Association, said shipments of orchids have been halted since last week, when Europe shut down large areas of its airspace due to ash clouds billowing from an erupting volcano in Iceland.


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Cargo plane crashes, kills 3 in Philippines

An electrical fire forced a cargo plane's pilots to attempt an emergency landing in a Philippine rice field when the aircraft burst into flames, killing three of its six crew, investigators said Thursday.

The Russian-made Antonov-12 aircraft was flying from Mactan in the central Philippines and crashed late Wednesday in the field about 22 miles (35 kilometers) south of Clark airport, the former U.S. air base near Manila, said Alfonso Cusi, director-general of the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines.

Firefighters struggled into the night to put out the flames that engulfed the aircraft after it exploded on impact, ripping the plane into two sections, said police Chief Inspector Carlito Fabro.


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