Industry Update – October 2022

Ongoing Biosecurity Delays

We are seeing significant delays in relation to document assessment (three to seven days) and lengthy delays (in many instances, several weeks) in inspection booking responses and next available inspection times by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (the department).

As a result, these delays had led to exorbitant container detention fees being paid to shipping lines due to empty containers failing to return to nominated facilities within prescribed timeframes. Also, high storage charges are being applied by terminals and depots until the cargo is released by the department.

Unfortunately, these delays are beyond our control and we have no option but to pass on any charges incurred by shipping lines and terminals/depots due to these delays.

The situation is expected to deteriorate during the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug (BMSB) season.

(Source – Freight & Trade Alliance)


Situation in USA and Canada:

  • USA Potential Rail Strike – Tentative agreement

As per our previous notice, there was a potential national rail strike in the US planned to start on Friday 16th September 2022. We have been advised that freight rail companies and unions representing tens of thousands of workers have reached a tentative agreement to avoid the planned work stoppage.

Although a tentative agreement had been made, as mentioned previously, major rail service disruptions and delays are still expected due to the announced service reductions by the railroads.

  • Port/Rail Congestion and Service delays

Port congestion has shifted from the west coast to the east, as of last week, there were 130 vessels waiting for berth space at US ports, but only a quarter of those were queuing on the west coast.

At the moment, US drayage operators are facing the biggest challenges at the port of New York and New Jersey due to empties and the availability to terminate empties.  Limited trucking and equipment availability are among the main challenges across the supply chain. (Source – The Load Star)

Vessels continue to be pushed further off the proforma schedule causing blank sailings and the continuous increase of import/export volume has affected operations across the US. Within the past few months, port congestion has increased on the East Coast and Gulf Coast ports, especially in Savannah and Houston.  In addition, due to increased volume and labour shortage, most terminals are experiencing congestion issues, including Los Angeles/Long Beach, Savannah, Charleston, Miami, Houston, and Seattle. Consequently, some carriers are omitting ports and altering schedules for services into US East Coast due to high congestion and delays.

At rail terminals, increased terminal dwell due to a surge of import/export volume and labour shortage is the main challenge affecting rail services. Rail terminals across the US are experiencing severe congestion due to limited equipment, gate capacity and chassis shortages.

Chassis issues are challenging in all regions in the US. This is due to the division of the intermodal system and the lack of additional capacity at different levels of the supply chain.


Situation in Europe:

  • UK ports – Industrial actions

As per our last month notice, dockworkers at the port of Felixstowe were going on an 8-day strike at the end of August. Carriers had been omitting Felixstowe port and rescheduled their vessels to mitigate delays and congestion due to labour shortages and suspension of operations. As shipping lines diverted their services to nearby ports like London Gateway or Rotterdam, this further disrupted the operations at these ports.

In addition, at the port of Liverpool, dockworkers planned a strike for 2 weeks starting from mid-September. Several carriers had carried out contingency plans to avoid delays and disruptions, with some shipping lines using alternate gateways due to this work stoppage.

Furthermore, workers at Felixstowe port also carried out a second wave of strikes. The industrial action was running for 8 days from 27th September to 5th October, which overlapped with strikes taking place at the port of Liverpool. Consequently, London Gateway and Southampton ports are expected to be overwhelmed and congested as carriers have been re-routing their vessels to these ports instead.

(Source – The Load Star)


Situation in Asia:

As mentioned in our previous notice, we have seen sea freight rates from Asia to Australia continue to decrease in the recent weeks. Freight rates are very unstable and fluid, varying from vessel to vessel.

In addition, the severe weather conditions with multiple typhoons in China back in September have resulted in major delays and congestion at Shanghai and Ningbo ports.  This is expected to further disrupt shipping schedules from Asia, where ports are already dealing with increased berth congestion and backlogs.


Situation in New Zealand:

Although the operational situation at Auckland port has been improving with vessel schedules expected to stabilise, there are still very limited services and available space/equipment to and from New Zealand ports. Some shipping lines are temporarily suspending their services for this trade lane due to limited space allocation and equipment shortages.


Brisbane Empty Park Congestion

Similar to Sydney and Melbourne, we have been advised of massive delays and congestion at the port of Brisbane and empty parks. The empty parks are running over capacity and are struggling to service the road movements. This is causing heavy delays for dehires. The situation is not meant to improve in the coming months, heading into peak season.

This level of congestion causes additional transport costs as empty containers may need to be staged via depot – requiring double handling, administrative overheads and late dehires.  In addition, truckers are still facing challenges due to driver shortages, covid sickness and delays.  Any additional costs received from carriers unfortunately will have to be passed on.


DP World Terminal Surcharge – Brisbane:

We have been advised that there will be a Peak Surcharge for any container import or export or empty dehire at DP World Terminal in Brisbane. The new surcharge has come into effect from Wednesday 24th August 2022 and the fee is AUD 185++ additional to standard charges.

This is due to the heavy delays and difficulties gaining time slots at DP World terminal. We have no control over this charge and will have no option but to pass it on when received.


Brisbane Booking Admin Fee:

From 01st September 2022, there has been a Booking Admin Fee to be applied on all FCL collections/deliveries in Brisbane. The new surcharge will be AUD 50 per container.


Adelaide Port and Empty Parks Congestion

Like Brisbane, Adelaide port is also experiencing heavy delays at the wharf with service times taking 3 times longer than normal. Carriers have had drivers queuing for more than 2 hours just to enter the harbour over the past few days and the wharf has only been able to service less than half of the required capacity in recent days. We have been advised of similar delays at dehire parks, whereby there are lengthy delays and very limited slots being released which is affecting truckers’ ability to be able to dehire containers within the free time period.

As a result of these factors, it is likely that there will be containers which will not be dehired within the free period. This is out of our control and we have no option but to pass on any detention charges which may be incurred due to these delays.


Adelaide Empty Container Park Increase:

Adelaide Empty Container Park surcharge has been increased to AUD 70 per container, effective immediately.


Airfreight Emergency Cartage Fuel Surcharge ex USA:

Further to our previous notice, Emergency Cartage Fuel Surcharge has increased to 21% effective 26th September 2022 on top of all airfreight inland pickups in the USA. Please note this surcharge fluctuates continually, so this is subject to change.

We will keep you updated with any further information.