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Freight industry sees limited impact from coronavirus – updated-2

[ January 29, 2020   //   ]

Freight and shipping operators said that the coronavirus outbreak that has hit Wuhan and other major cities in China had not yet had a great impact on their operators, not least because it had coincided with the Lunar New Year holiday shutdown.

However, they said that they were continuing to monitor the situation and would take further steps if necessary.

A Kuehne & Nagel spokesman said: “Outside of Hubei province (Wuhan), we do not see major disruptions for the time being. The major ports and airports are currently operating as normal. Given that we are currently in the Chinese New Year holiday period, the general level of business is low anyway. However, the situation is very fluid and our local teams will keep in close contact with our customers to manage the situation accordingly.“

A UPS spokesperson said that the outbreak had not materially affected its business, but it was deferring non- critical travel to Asia “out of an abundance of caution, adding: “ When an area experiences a significant disruption to its infrastructure or transportation network, we implement contingency plans to safely serve our customers as we are able. Our primary concern is for the safety of the people in the affected areas, and we find that our customers are very understanding in these circumstances.”

British Airways has also suspended direct flights to all mainland China destinations, while Lufthansa has stopped all passenger services. However, the German carrier will maintain passenger and freighter flights to Hong and Kong and a daily freighter to Shanghai Pudong. Live animals will no longer be accepted on routes to and from the Chinese mainland.

Express carrier FedEx Express said: “FedEx is adhering to all regulations and guidelines from Chinese authorities related to containment of the coronavirus. These restrictions may affect shipments inbound and outbound to/from Wuhan as well as shipments moving within Wuhan.”

FedEx has shipped over 200,000 surgical masks and personal protective equipment such as gowns and gloves to its Asia Pacific Hub in Guangzhou, China to assist Direct Relief’s efforts to combat the coronavirus outbreak. The carrier said it was working closely with China Post and Guangzhou Baiyun Airport Customs to deliver the aid from Guangzhou to Wuhan Union Hospital as soon as possible.

Shipping operator Maersk said that all companies have been requested to extend the Lunar New Year holiday and not re-open their premises until Monday 3 February in Mainland China

The end of the holiday remained as 29 January for Hong Kong and 30 January for Taiwan.

All Maersk operations including terminals, warehousing, depots and offices except Wuhan continue to operate uninterrupted as per usual. Loading and discharging at Wuhan port have been suspended until further notice and customer service teams are currently following up on shipment status with respective customers and discussing alternative transport plans.

The company has also taken significant preventive and proactive measures to ensure employees’ health and safety.  Emergency management teams are monitoring the situation daily and all Maersk offices have business contingency plans in case the situation escalates.

A DHL spokesman added that the local government in Hubei province has implemented strict controls to prevent the spread of the disease including cancelling commercial flights to and from the city of Wuhan, as well as closing all highways and roads into the city. As a result, DHL’s pick-up, delivery and warehousing services in Hubei province are currently suspended.

DHL says that epidemic and pandemic risk scenarios are an integral part of the Group’s continuous risk planning.

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