The global spread of the coronavirus (officially called Covid-19) is causing major affects to the shipping industry. As the reports continue to advise of the growing number of people infected by this virus, we want to make you all aware of what this is doing to your international shipments going forward.
In the last 48 hours, the ocean carriers have begun changing vessel schedules with over a week delay in departure dates. These major changes are causing demurrage, detention, and storage charges. In speaking with our sales representatives from ocean carriers and NVOCC’s for all outbound cargo from the US, we are being advised to book our freight in advance as the equipment and space shortage is going to get much worse in the coming weeks and months. The carriers will also begin to charge a fee for any booking cancellation so our advice is to make sure the cargo you have is ready for export before requesting your booking. This is not only affecting the trade lanes to China, but all lanes globally. Empty containers can be returned back to the terminals, but there will be additional charges. Please note the carriers and the terminal operators will be billing all charges due to these unforeseen changes and are for the account of the exporter/shipper of record on all outbound cargo. Charges are due prior to the release of cargo and charges continue to grow without payment. We will advance these charges on your behalf with the understanding that these charges are due as per the agreed upon terms with Jade International.
We are seeing more airlines cancel and downgrading flights as less people are traveling due to the travel restrictions and also the concerns for traveling to certain locations at this time. Yesterday, American Airlines suspended all flights to and from Milan airport, Italy and today suspended flights to and from Seoul airport, South Korea. Many other airline carriers are following suit with these suspensions and cancellations. The cargo space to certain overseas airports are very limited which has seen an overall increase in air freight costs across the board.
On the import side, China had already been shut down for a week due to their Lunar New Year and with the outbreak of the coronavirus, the shutdown was extended for a longer period for most regions in China with some regions still not able to return to work. This has caused severe delays for all manufacturing companies as they are unable to produce and fulfill orders. The carriers have been omitting these and other surrounding seaports causing major backlogs of containers and vessels. We are also seeing container imbalance surcharges at this time.
We will continue to monitor this ongoing situation and will provide you with the latest updates as they become available. The virus has impacted shipping and it will likely take months after the virus has been controlled to return to normal.