MRC Global InSight

Transportation Update

Global supply chain challenges continue to plague the transportation and logistics field within the PVF space. Although some areas are experiencing a slight upturn, issues such as capacity constraints, general labor and driver shortages, and inflationary pressures will likely continue through 2022. These factors, along with record-high fuel rates around the globe, have resulted in historically high transport pricing across all carrier modes, challenging the transportation industry at large.

Below are the summaries for each mode of transportation based on input from our global providers.

 

Constraints due to the downstream effects of COVID-19 are still resulting in greatly inflated ocean rates. Decommissioned vessels, port labor limitations and increased demand continue to impact the cost of shipping a container from Asia to both the U.S. West Coast and to Europe. After peaking at $20,600 in September 2021, the cost of shipping a container from Asia to the U.S. West Coast is now hovering at $7,400. Also on a steady decline is the per container shipping cost from Asia to Northern Europe, which has fallen to about $10,500 after a January high of $15,000.4

 

Although far from normal, vessel delays and port congestion are starting to show slight signs of recovery. In April of this year, global supply chain delays decreased from 7.45 days to 6.41 days, representing the first drop below the 7-day mark since August 2021.5 While 10.5% of the global fleet remains unavailable, this is nearly a 24% improvement from January 2022, when North American port congestion hit its peak.6 European ports have shown significant congestion improvements over the last few months, particularly in Spain, Italy and Greece. Shanghai’s major port has opened after a two-month COVID-19 lockdown, easing supply chain constraints in China. However, the threat of further lockdowns in Shanghai is looming as new COVID-19 outbreaks spread quickly across this region.

 

Spot and contracted linehaul rates remain at elevated historic highs since the rates peaked in July 2021. In June 2022, average U.S. flatbed spot rates (including fuel) were up 10% year-over year to $3.45. Average U.S. flatbed contract rates (including fuel) were $3.85, up 23% year-over-year.7 Record-high fuel pricing, driver shortages, supply chain issues in obtaining proper equipment, high-demand/low-capacity and inflationary pressures are all contributing to these historically high rates, which will likely remain elevated through 2022.

 

Air freight rates continue to rise in parallel with oil prices and are compounded by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict, as airlines must avoid Russian airspace leading to additional stops and refuels. Demand is expected to remain strong, with challenges in ocean capacity shifting more volume onto air freight. U.S. domestic air cargo capacity is easing as more planes are added to rotation. However, the Russian-Ukrainian conflict is seriously hindering volume out of Europe, causing a contraction of 25% in the last six weeks.8

4. https://en.macromicro.me/
5. The Maritime Executive
6. Sea-Intelligence
7. DAT Trendlines
8. Crane Worldwide Logistics