European Transport Situation Remains Fluid As China Reopens For Business

Mar 18, 2020

With current dynamic state of freight transport, we are sharing our latest market intelligence to help guide customers in minimizing, wherever possible, delays and extra costs in their supply chains.

For Europe, we are not currently seeing issues preventing pickups and truck transport within EU countries. However we are monitoring several areas of concern, including supplier closings, border crossings and driver availability. It is important for buyers to confirm with European suppliers that they will be open for pickups. Some factories are temporarily closing or reducing hours for health- or supply-related reasons. Be aware of potential delays with cargo or paperwork as drivers and warehouse workers follow new health protocols. While the EU is starting work to speed up border crossing, increased border checks around driver health and paperwork have created delays at various border crossings. Waits on the German border to Poland, the French border to Germany, the German border to Switzerland and French side of the Chunnel are currently among the longer ones. Driver availability is a potential future issue, as Europe sources 40% of its drivers from Poland, and the backup on the German-Polish border is thought to be drivers headed home for shelter.

Sharply-reduced passenger flight schedules have cut large quantities of belly cargo capacity from the Europe-U.S. market. As a result, rates on trans-Atlantic freighters are at levels not previously seen. Scarce capacity is driving a sellers’ market for air cargo with airlines requiring payment guarantees for bookings of any size. Though several passenger airlines are offering cargo charters on passenger aircraft, TOC recommends using scheduled freighters and freighter charters as being more dependable solutions as EU leadership continues to debate even further passenger travel restrictions. TOC advises customers who anticipate using air cargo over the next 30 days, and possibly longer, to put their best forecast together in order to secure space.

On the ocean front, empty container availability and equipment imbalances remain an issue globally. China-U.S. traffic is in process of returning to normal, though empty containers, particularly at inland Chinese locations, remain a problem. Blanked sailings from China have been reduced, but still exist. TOC has been successful in repositioning containers for customers in a number of cases.

As cargo begins to hit U.S. ports, TOC is monitoring the potential ripple effects of any general U.S. slowdown, including intermodal delays with trains not full, driver and chassis availability, new port procedures and compliance requirements. Importers will need to take extra care to avoid costly waiting time, container imbalance surcharges, and storage.

This is one of the most fluid transport situations most logistics professionals have worked through in their careers. Unlike many forwarders, TOC staff is fully capable of working 100% from home to be able to serve customers with quality solutions in this challenging time in our industry.


Our capable and experienced team is standing by to assist organizations and supply chains across the globe. Click the button to get in touch with our team.

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