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Shanghai container port still the busiest, but gap with Singapore narrows

THE port of Shanghai has maintained its position as the world's largest container port, but new statistics from Alphaliner show its lead over second-placed Singapore narrowed last year.

Shanghai's box throughput in 2018 totalled 42.01 million TEU, a 4.4 per cent growth on 2017, while Singapore handled 36.6 million TEU, representing growth of 8.7 per cent.

The 5.41 million TEU differential between the two ports was narrower than the 6.56 million TEU difference this time last year.

Singapore's 2.93 million TEU gain last year made it the largest-growing port globally, in terms of volumes, although Shanghai's 1.78 million TEU gain puts it in second place in that sub-list, reports The Loadstar of UK.

According to Alphaliner, together the world's largest 120 box ports handled 654 million TEU last year, an increase of 4.9 per cent on 2017, which was broadly in line with analysts'consensus.

Of those, 104 ports saw volumes grow, while 16 saw declines - and there were some high-losers among them.

Hong Kong saw the largest decline in volumes, down 1.1 million TEU over the year, dropping from fifth to seventh place in the top 120 as it posted a 56.7 per cent fall to finish the year with 19.6 million TEU throughput, prompting its major terminal operators to form an alliance to try and arrest further declines.

DP World's flagship Dubai facility also saw volumes decline, by 2.7 per cent, and with an annual throughput of 14.95 million TEU, it fell out of the top 10 to eleventh place - overtaken by the northern Chinese port of Tianjin.

Other ports which saw large losses included other high-profile transshipment hubs: Panama's Pacific hub of Balboa continued to see fall-out from the Panama Canal expansion as larger vessels now able to transit the canal bypassed it as volumes declined 29.3 per cent, losing around 850,000 TEU, to end the year at 2.05 million TEU; Oman's Salalah lost 560,000 TEU, representing 14.2 per cent of its previous year's volumes; Dubai rival Khor Fakkan dropped 13.8 per cent to end the year at an estimated 2 million TEU; while Gioia Tauro lost 4.9 per cent of its volume, equating to 120,000 TEU.

The two largest gateway ports to see volume declines were the Iranian hub of Bandar Abbas, where new sanctions had the catastrophic effect of cutting to 600,000 TEU, or 22.4 per cent; and the UK's Felixstowe, whose well-publicised IT transformation project resulted in an estimated loss of some 360,000 TEU, representing 8.7 per cent of the previous year's total.

And Felixstowe's loss was London's gain, where scores of ad hoc calls were handled and which recorded a 23.2 per cent increase in volumes to an estimated 1.7 million TEU.

Three ports, Beirut, Puerto Limon and Dandong, fell out of the top 120 last year, and were replaced by Buenaventura, Lome and Jinzhou.

Cosco Shipping Ports to build mega logistics park at Guangzhou port

TERMINAL operator Cosco Shipping Ports (CSP) plans to develop a 254,000-square-metre logistics park in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou that has a regional population of 64 million and boasts one of the world's busiest box ports with 2018 throughput hitting 21.92 million TEU.

CSP signed an investment agreement with the Guangzhou Nansha Economic and Technology Development Zone Commercial Bureau, which operates the Nansha free trade zone and includes a 15-square kilometre port cluster, the majority of which is situated on Longxue island in the Pearl River Delta.

Scant details are currently available, however, it appears from the comments made by CSP that the logistics park will be built next to the Nansha box terminal on Longxue Island, New York's FreightWaves reported.

CSP wants to develop a "supply chain platform" for high-end warehousing for businesses including cross-border e-commerce, auto parts and accessories distribution, fresh food and cold chain for pharmaceutical products.

CSP managing director Zhang Wei said that the development will be a new growth driver for Cosco Shipping Ports. "Cosco Shipping Ports' investment in port supply chain project in Nansha heralds the company's initiative to take advantage of scarce logistics resources near the port and develop high-end warehousing business."

Mr Wei continued: "Compared to traditional simple warehous(ing), this high-end warehousing project near the port is irreplaceable and has a higher plot ratio and more scientific and efficient warehousing space. Located behind the container terminal, the project enjoys (a) good location, strong synergy effect and low transportation costs."

The Nansha port area is the main port of Guangzhou. It comprises 16 container berths with a 5,718-metre quay length and 61 quay cranes that have the ability to handle ships 23 rows across. The channel depth is 17 metres with a width of 243 metres. The terminal also has 57,600-square metres of on-dock warehousing and 63,000 square metres of off-dock warehousing.

In 2018 Guangzhou port handled 21.92 million TEU, making it the fifth busiest port worldwide after Shenzhen with 25.74 million TEU.

As of December 31 2018, CSP operated and managed 283 berths at 36 ports globally, of which 192 were for containers. The company said it handled 117.37 million TEU last year, an increase of 17.1 per cent over the previous year on revenues of US$1 billion, up 57.6 per cent year on the back of the completion of acquisitions and the consolidation of revenues.

US import trade starts recovery ahead of summer season

MAJOR container ports in the US are starting to see import traffic recover in the run-up to the peak summer shipping season and are forecast to climb to the two million-TEU mark by August, according to Global Port Tracker, published by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Hackett Associates.

US ports covered in the report handled an estimated 1.63 million TEU in March, a 5.9 per cent year-on-year increase and a turnaround from a slow February, which saw volumes drop four per cent to 1.62 million TEU.

April is forecast at 1.75 million TEU, up 6.9 per cent; May at 1.9 million TEU, a four per cent increase; and June at 1.89 million TEU, up two per cent, reported American Shipper.

"Retailers are starting to stock up in anticipation of a strong summers," said NRF vice president Jonathan Gold. "Tariff increases are on hold and progress is being reported in talks between the United States and China, so the imports we're seeing now are driven primarily by expectations for consumer demand."

Imports in 2018 rose by 6.2 per cent to a record of 21.8 million TEU. The first half of 2019 is forecast to total 10.7 million TEU, representing 3.7 growth over the first half of 2018, NRF said.

"The US consumer, while more cautious, has not stopped spending," said Hackett Associates founder Ben Hackett. "The inventory-to-sales ratio, however, is on the rise. Part of this can be attributed to the heavy front-loading of imports ahead of expected tariff increases that took place in 2018."

Record March box throughput at Savannah port

THE US port of Savannah experienced a record March after seeing 410,000 TEU pass through its gates, an increase of 15.5 per cent year on year, data from Georgia Ports Authority shows.

Rail volumes in March surged by 26 per cent to total 82,135 TEU. In addition, GPA achieved a record low dwell-time for intermodal boxes last month, with containers averaging 27 hours from vessel to outbound rail.

The Mason Mega Rail project, which will double the port of Savannah's rail lift capacity to one million containers per annum, is one-quarter complete. The first phase will come online by October 2019 and the second phase is due to become operational by December 2020.

"Our rail expansion will allow Garden City Terminal to accommodate additional 10,000-foot long unit trains and provide direct rail service to inland markets such as St Louis, Chicago and Cincinnati," said GPA chairman Jimmy Allgood. "By stepping up to the plate to bring on additional rail capacity, we are expanding the size and scope of Georgia's market reach."

Not only is the port of Savannah handling more rail cargo, it is moving the intermodal boxes faster than before. Within one year alone, the dwell time for such cargo was cut in half. For the fiscal year to date, the volume of containers moved by rail rose by 22 per cent, compared to the same period in the previous fiscal year, to stand at 701,000 TEU.

Israel's ZIM joins 2M service and returns to Seattle's Terminal 46

THE Northwest Seaport Alliance has received the ZIM Ningbo at the north harbour, after the Israeli shipping line joined the 2M's transpacific service that calls at Seattle's Terminal 46.

The carrier will deploy four of its own vessels on the weekly ZP9 service with the greater capacity intended to serve the NWSA gateway. This will be the ocean liner's first regular call at the NWSA since the spring of 2017, Sen News, UK, reported.

"We are proud to welcome ZIM back to our family of steamship lines calling at The Northwest Seaport Alliance," said port of Seattle commissioner Courtney Gregoire. "This new weekly service and the cargo it brings mean good-paying jobs and revenue for our region."

The new weekly port rotation is: Kaohsiung, Xiamen, Yantian, Ningbo, Shanghai, Pusan, Vancouver, Seattle, Yokohama, Pusan, returning to Kaohsiung.

Kerry Logistics set up JV with Sitthi Logistics to develop dry port in Laos

HONG Kong's Kerry Logistics Network Ltd has signed a memorandum of understanding between its subsidiary, KLN (Singapore) Pte Ltd and Laos's Sitthi Logistics, paving the way for the establishment of a joint venture to develop a dry port in the Vientiane logistics park in Laos.

The move is part of Kerry Logistics' development strategy to grow its business in ASEAN by developing an integrated greater Mekong region platform, encompassing Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos.

The dry port will be situated on a site measuring 35 hectares and is to be developed in phases for the transfer of cargo at Vientiane, which connects the railway lines between Kunming, China and Bangkok, Thailand.

An efficient dry port is not only expected to help draw investment to Vientiane and its surrounding areas, but also to transform the city into an economic hub along One Belt and Road (Obor) trade routes.

Chairman George Yeo said: "We at Kerry Logistics are proud to play a role in the development of Laos and what will become an important economic corridor between China and Southeast Asia. We are fortunate to have in Sitthi Logistics a strong local partner. Together with Sitthi Logistics, we will work hard to make the dry port project a success."

Kerry Logistics will provide management expertise, while Sitthi Logistics will provide local support. The facilities will allow the logistics industry to transport goods by road and rail and create an efficient logistics system to accommodate a range of industries and facilitate distribution along the economic corridor between China and Thailand.

To enable the Laotian economy to benefit from the Kunming-Bangkok railway and to fully utilise the plentiful resources and labour available in Laos, the Lao government is introducing economic incentives and conducive regulations for the building of a logistics centre in Vientiane.

CBX Global opens subsidiary in China with four offices

CBX Global has announced the opening of subsidiary company CBX Global Asia Pacific with four offices in China.

CBX Global operates a wide variety of services, and it hasn't been reluctant to stray from the beaten track if customers need special services. In addition to being an ocean and air forwarder, NVOCC, custom house broker and warehouse provider, CBX Global has provided trucking and light manufacturing and even mixed chemicals for some clients.

"Like anyone who wants to stay in business, we are a solutions provider. We will sit with our clients, listen to the problems they have and see if we can provide solutions that kind of fit in our wheelhouse, said John Ford, the company's president and majority owner. "So you'll find that in certain countries, in certain facilities they're doing something that is not being done anywhere else in the company.

The company also operates in four Central American countries - Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador - where apparel manufacturing is strong.

While CBX Global has done business in China for 15 years by partnering with agents, Mr Ford said the company decided to open its own offices because it "saw opportunity to go into areas that were difficult to do with an agency type relationship.

He explained that a lot of frustration that shippers have when doing business in China grows out of a lack of visibility into their supply chain.

"By having our own offices, that has opened a lot of doors for us, he explained, according to American Shipper.

CBX Global Asia Pacific now has offices in Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Shanghai and Chongqing. In China, its customers ship automotive and aircraft parts, food and a wide variety of consumer goods.

CBX Global's business in China is "dominated by direct relationships with certain manufacturers," said Mr Ford.

A privately held company, CBX Global has about 530 employees, moved about 25,000 TEU in 2018 and is nearing annual revenue of about US$100 million.

SriLankan Airlines' 5-year plan aims to boost cost-efficiency and productivity

SRILANKAN Airlines has devised a five-year business plan through 2024 to transform itself into a financially successful organisation, while turning Sri Lanka into a hub for air freight and travel, serving markets in Asia Pacific, Africa and the Middle East.

The plan recognises the contribution of the national carrier to a vast number of industries in Sri Lanka, including all export-, import- and travel-related industries. The plan requires the government's approval. It was formulated by the national carrier's new management team under the leadership of chief executive officer Vipula Gunatilleka, who was appointed in mid-2018.

A key aspect of the strategic business plan includes developing a route network to match customer demand and market opportunities, including new destinations in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, the Far East and Australia, as opposed to the limited point-to-point strategy, reported Sunday Observer, Colombo.

It also focuses on selecting a fleet that is cost-effective and best matches the requirements of the route network; adopting best practices to improve productivity; growing online sales to reach a wider market in a more cost-effective manner; greater employee engagement; and implementing a competitive-cost structure through fostering a greater cost-consciousness companywide.

The airline would also expand its use of standard operating procedures and global best practices. Furthermore, the blueprint focuses on digital transformation through the adoption of new technologies and increasing ancillary revenue from the group's sub-business units, including SriLankan Cargo.

Virgin Atlantic appoints new cargo handler in Lagos to meet growth

VIRGIN Atlantic Cargo has awarded a five-year handling contract to Sifax SAHCOL in Lagos as it looks to meet recent growth to the country.

The airline said the new handler, which took over the contract on April 10, will improve its service offering for customers in Nigeria and provide extra capacity following a 19 per cent boost in export volumes in the last year and higher inbound demand from the pharmaceutical and courier sectors.

Virgin Atlantic's import and export cargo will be handled in Sifax SAHCOL's 22,000 sq m warehouse operation at Murtala Muhammed International Airport.

This incorporates a cold room for perishables and temperature-sensitive shipments, and dedicated locations for courier and high value cargo. The building also has 22 truck bays, 24/7 CCTV coverage, access control systems, screening technology and a control room for security, London's Air Cargo News reported.

Virgin Atlantic's daily Nigeria flights - operated by Airbus A340-600 aircraft with up to 20 tonnes of cargo capacity - saw positive revenue and volume growth in 2018. Revenues ex UK rose 9 per cent year on year, helped by a 135 per cent rise in pharmaceutical volumes and a 21 per cent growth in courier shipments, while the 11 per cent boost in annual revenues ex-Lagos was largely attributed to higher perishables traffic as a result of the Nigerian government's initiative to encourage agricultural exports.

Tania Boyes, director - cargo operations at Virgin Atlantic, said: "Lagos has been an important cargo market for us for more than 17 years and we are forecasting further growth in our export and import volumes in 2019.

"By moving to a larger and more modern facility, we can improve our product and service offerings for the growing number of companies moving goods to and from Nigeria. We also wish to thank our previous handling provider, NAHCO, for their support since we commenced operations on the route."

Saudia set to become 12th SkyTeam Cargo member

SAUDIA Airlines Cargo is to be the twelfth member of SkyTeam Cargo on April 15, enabling the global cargo alliance to significantly increase its footprint across the Middle East as none of its current members are based in the region.

Vice president SkyTeam Cargo, Nico van der Linden, said: "The members of SkyTeam Cargo are pleased to welcome Saudia Cargo as the newest member of our growing alliance. Our current members, and in turn their customers, will benefit from an expanded network across the Middle East."

Omar Hariri, chief executive, Saudia Cargo, added: "Joining SkyTeam Cargo means our valued customers will benefit from an enhanced product offering and a comprehensive global network. In turn, we will support the wider alliance by extending its reach across the Middle East, Africa and Indian subcontinent via our hubs in Jeddah and Riyadh."

SkyTeam Cargo's current 11 members are Aeroflot Cargo, Aerolineas Argentinas Cargo, Aeromexico Cargo, Air France Cargo, Alitalia Cargo, China Airlines Cargo, China Cargo Airlines, Czech Airlines Cargo, Delta Cargo, KLM Cargo, and Korean Air Cargo.

The alliance serves over 900 destinations in more than 175 countries and members adopt four common products: express, general, specialised and customised, reports London's Air Cargo News.

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