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Congestion on the high seas — Midday Market Update

What maritime markets look like right now

Ocean freight stays hot but will it be impacted by Chinese New Year?


The Port of Los Angeles is willing to pay terminals for turning trucks quickly in order to get freight moved through the market. Currently imports far outweigh exports in the Port of LA and Micheal Vincent says this imbalance is a major efficiency killer for port operations. 

U.S. Xpress has released its 2021 economic outlook and the company is forecasting fundamentals from 2020 sticking around through the first half of 2021. FreightWaves’ Todd Maiden reports U.S. Xpress expects driver shortages and capacity constraints will continue to be common themes around the industry. 

United Airlines is continuing to see massive revenue growth with its cargo sector; the airline’s revenue grew 77% in the last quarter of 2020, and the company repurposed passenger aircraft to increase cargo shipments. 

High container demand still dominates

Ocean Audit CEO Steve Ferreira joins the show to discuss his observations around the maritime shipping situation. Ferreira discusses the extreme challenges currently facing the West Coast ports, from backlogs to container shortages to one ship that lost cargo during a storm. 

COVID-19 is also continuing to have trans-Pacific impacts. Ferreira says labor shortages and intra-China travel restrictions are limiting what can be produced in China, loaded onto ships and pushed across the Pacific Ocean. 

Another autonomous vehicle player

Kevin Hill and Vincent talk to Don Burnette, CEO of Kodiak another company poised to turn the trucking world autonomous. Burnette says self-driving trucks are not a thing of the future; the technology is here and is being rolled out now. 

Burnette believes his company is ready to present its product to the market and make it a major competitor with other AV companies. 

Premium rates for ocean freight

Steve Ferreira is not the only one observing ocean trends, Chris Richards, manager of international sales at Steam Logistics, is keeping a close eye on the extreme ocean rates. 

Richards says finding bookings on ships is near impossible, and companies that are finding shipping space are paying premium rates between $8,000 and $10,000. He says these premium rates also carry cancellation fees and no guarantee of space with loading, making problems even worse for companies wanting to get that freight into the U.S. 
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Kaylee Nix

Kaylee Nix is a meteorologist and reporter for FreightWaves. She joined the company in November of 2020 after spending two years as a broadcast meteorologist for a local television channel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Kaylee graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2018 and immediately made the Tennessee Valley her home. Kaylee creates written summaries of FreightWaves live podcasts and cultivates the social media for FreightWaves TV.