Freight Shipping News


The European Commission has fined 14 freight forwarders, including UPS, Panalpina and Kuehne + Nagel (KN) a total of €169 million (US$225m) for operating an air freight cartel on several routes.

The operators said to be involved in cartel activity were Agility Logistics, Beijing Kintetsu World Express, Ceva and EGL, DHL Global Forwarding, DSV Air & Sea, Exel, Expeditors Hong Kong, Hellmann Worldwide Logistics, Kuehne + Nagel, Nippon Express, Panalpina, Schenker, UTi Worldwide, Toll Global Forwarding, UPS (as successor of Menlo Worldwide Forwarding) and Yusen Shenda Air & Sea Service (Shanghai).

The commission said yesterday that the forwarding groups had co-ordinated their prices and surcharges, even using code names to conceal their collusion.

Westbound rates on the Asia-Europe trade lanes saw big jumps last week ahead of May 1 st GRI.

The most recent Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI), published weekly by the Shanghai Shipping Exchange, suggests that ex-China rates rose US$180 per teu into Northern Europe and $230 into the Mediterranean. The news has surprised market analysts, who have previously expressed doubt that container lines could maintain strong price rises against a continuing backdrop of excess supply and weak demand.

The global containership fleet is at its largest since last August, as vessel deliveries and a reduction in the idle fleet have raised available capacity to a new record of almost 15 million teu, according to Alphaliner.

The capacity gains have outpaced the growth in demand for space, which is impacting rates and vessel utilisation, says the industry analyst in its latest report. This could put pressure on the carriers' aim of sustaining the general rate increases announced for 1 May.

Maersk Line has told customers it has "relaxed" its four-week old booking embargo on the North Europe-Asia trade lane.

The suspension of bookings, announced on 20 March and blamed on a lack of space, was controversial, given the route's status as a lesser utilised "backhaul". In an email to customers dated 12 April, Maersk Line warned customers that "strong space pressure" was expected to continue through April and May, implying that pressure would also apply to prices.

Antitrust fine of €54 million imposed by the EC impacted Kuehne + Nagel's results for the first quarter.

At Sfr4.83 billion (US$5.22bn), turnover remained stable compared with the previous year, while gross profit improved 3% (currency adjusted by 8.1%) to Sfr1.5 billion. The operational result (ebitda) declined 12.4%, but this included the one-off antitrust fine, with net earnings down 14.2% to Sfr133 million.

Maersk Line is expecting to lose money again this year, despite recent rate increases, the chairman of parent group AP Møller-Maersk told shareholders.

A "negative result in 2012" for the world's biggest container line would be "a consequence of excess capacity", Michael Pram Rasmussen explained to the group's annual general meeting. The APMM group overall expected a positive full-year 2012 result, but it would not be as good as that for 2011, he added.

Cosco has announced the biggest loss for 2011 so far reported in the shipping sector, and predicted another tough year ahead.

The Chinese conglomerate saw a 2010 Rmb6.78 billion (US$1.07bn) profit turn into a Rmb10.5 billion ($1.66bn) loss, with group revenue plunging 12.3% to Rmb84.64 billion.