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Aperture and Focus- Oct 19

Aperture & Focus: October 19, 2022

Global Aperture

More economic foghorns sound as global cargo volumes and manufacturing output shrinks, leading to a growing number of idled cargo vessels and the proverbial benching of over 300,000 TEUs of capacity. Air market leaders contend that the e-commerce segment—making up approximately 18% of 2021 cargo volumes, according to IATA—may continue its volume growth on cross-border demand and smartphone ownership.

But new US export controls on semiconductors and microchips may fray relationships between component suppliers and chip manufacturers, with effects potentially cascading beyond consumer electronics, aerospace, automotive, and medical device verticals.

China’s soybean inventories are set to tighten further as delays in US exports deepen shortages of the key animal feed ingredient in Asia, keeping livestock markets inflated. Grain and fertilizer supplies also return to hot waters as Russia poises to withdraw from the Black Sea export agreement.


Regional Focus


In the US, the Air Forwarders Association (AfA) and the National Customs Brokers and Forwarders Association of America (NCBFAA) are asking for government support to address infrastructure challenges in the air freight industry, based on recently published findings of a national stakeholder survey. The data appears in a jointly developed whitepaper that calls for airport community systems, industry-standard training, effective recruitment strategies, and a $25 billion support fund for airport cargo operations.

In a completely unrelated story, some flights in Dallas-Fort Worth International are winging their routes without GPS after aviation authorities announced an investigation into signal disruptions that have forced at least one runway closure at the Texas airport.

North America’s vessel queues have declined on slower import demand according to port tracking data obtained October 14, the same day a tentative agreement between union leaders and port officials in Vancouver was reportedly reached. While the monthslong labor dispute has come to an end, the backlog and congestion have not. As a result, carrier alliance 2M has moved to consolidate its transpacific service loops calling on Vancouver and Prince Rupert, attributed to rail congestion and docking restrictions that have deteriorated schedule reliability.


Despite citywide announcements of a new Covid-19 outbreak on October 16, Ningbo-Zhoushan Port has remained operational and now provides empty container retrieval to minimize yard congestion. Other ports in Shanghai and Tianjin have also been impacted, but the reported export slowdown has eased industry concerns about congestion.

More major airlines in China have reinstated international outbound flights through November, following network revivals from Japanese, Korean, and Southeast Asian carriers in weeks prior.

Delegates of the EU and ASEAN sign an intra-bloc open skies agreement, expanding cargo flight frequencies throughout the combined 37 member nations.

Europe, Middle East & Africa

Members of the United National Transport Union (UNTU) returned to work after union reps signed a three-year salary agreement with the state-owned port operator, Transnet. Unionized pilots of British Airways reach an agreement with airline management, while a ground handling company tries to prevent strike tensions at Heathrow Airport from boiling over.

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