• ITVI.USA
    13,795.070
    81.410
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    26.560
    -0.120
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,740.380
    64.000
    0.5%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    -0.060
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.670
    0.130
    5.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.930
    0.280
    10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.320
    -0.020
    -1.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.040
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.210
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
  • ITVI.USA
    13,795.070
    81.410
    0.6%
  • OTRI.USA
    26.560
    -0.120
    -0.4%
  • OTVI.USA
    13,740.380
    64.000
    0.5%
  • TLT.USA
    2.720
    -0.060
    -2.2%
  • TSTOPVRPM.ATLPHL
    2.670
    0.130
    5.1%
  • TSTOPVRPM.CHIATL
    2.930
    0.280
    10.6%
  • TSTOPVRPM.DALLAX
    1.320
    -0.020
    -1.5%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXDAL
    3.040
    0.050
    1.7%
  • TSTOPVRPM.PHLCHI
    1.740
    0.050
    3%
  • TSTOPVRPM.LAXSEA
    3.210
    0.000
    0%
  • WAIT.USA
    108.000
    5.000
    4.9%
Air CargoAmerican ShipperContainerMaritimeNews

COVID outbreak threatens to delay ocean, air shipments in Australia

Quarantine measures could impact Port of Melbourne; Qantas airfreight facility closed

New measures to contain a surge of COVID-19 cases in Victoria, Australia, have resulted in the continued closure of Qantas Airways’ two freight terminals at Melbourne airport and concerns of logistics bottlenecks for the port and delivery businesses.

Qantas Freight’s Melbourne cargo warehouses will remain closed until at least midnight Thursday, the company said on its website. The airline’s cargo arm hasn’t provided a reason for the temporary shutdown that began two days ago, but indications are that it is responding to an infection in the workforce. 

Qantas is not accepting or releasing freight, with the possible exception of urgent domestic medical shipments. International shipments moving under the government of Australia’s emergency airfreight assistance program for exporters will be cleared Thursday at the Menzies Aviation station instead if they have already been loaded into containers by the customer. 

Under a state of emergency that goes into effect overnight, nonessential businesses must shut down. Logistics interests in Australia are trying to confirm that all import and export operations are deemed essential, warning that limiting exemptions to only certain types of businesses will result in harmful shipping delays.

The Freight & Trade Alliance, representing the supply chain sector, and the Australian Peak Shippers Association said they are warning government officials that if quarantines extend to the Port of Melbourne, 300,000 import containers could quickly stack up during the next six weeks, leading to severe congestion that impedes deliveries of food, personal protective equipment and medical supplies.

Retailers may be closed, but they still need the imported goods to make home deliveries or offer curbside pickup for online shoppers, the trade associations said in an alert to members.

“We also need these import containers to be unpacked and made available for our exporters, in particular to support our struggling agricultural sector that is expecting substantial crops this spring and are desperate to reach overseas markets,” the update said.

Warehouses and distribution centers can continue to operate at two-thirds of their normal staffing levels, but the shipper and freight forwarding groups said they are seeking to clarify whether the requirement extends to customs-bonded warehouses and other import/export facilities.

Under the rules, employers that require staff to show up at a job site must issue a worker permit. Penalties for working without a permit, or not meeting eligibility requirements, are up to $14,000 for individuals and $70,000 for businesses. On-the-spot fines of up to $1,200 and $7,000 for individuals and businesses, respectively, are also possible for noncompliance with the worker permit scheme.

The FTA and Australian Peak Shippers Alliance said they are engaging the government to allow warehouses and cold-storage facilities that implement plans for COVID safety to operate. 

Click here for more FreightWaves/American Shipper stories by Eric Kulisch.

RECOMMENDED READING:

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Virus slows airlines from adding capacity, airfreight volatility increases

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Eric Kulisch, Air Cargo Editor

Eric is the Air Cargo Market Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government coverage and news analysis, and was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at ekulisch@freightwaves.com
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