Shippers Criticize Vancouver Strike: As a truckers' strike at the Port of Vancouver, British Columbia, moved into its third week, a coalition of exporters in western Canada said the work stoppage was hurting British Columbia's reputation as a trade hub and threatening jobs. Representatives of more than 1,000 truck drivers and employers met with a mediator last Tuesday in a bid to end the strike. A judge earlier granted motor carriers an injunction to prevent strikers from blocking access to the ports after demonstrations turned violent. The mostly independent drivers, represented by the Vancouver Container Truckers Association, stopped work on June 27 to protest low pay and rising fuel costs. The dispute affected about 40 percent of all containers handled at the ports of Vancouver and Fraser River. Intermodal rail shipments were still moving, but local deliveries were affected by the strike.
FedEx Moving Philippines Hub To China: FedEx said it will close its Asian hub in Subic Bay, Philippines, and replace it with a new $150 million hub in Guangzhou, in southern China. The shift will happen by the end of 2008, FedEx said. The company predicts that airfreight from China to the U.S. will grow an average of 9.6 percent a year over the next 20 years. "We do not need two Asia-Pacific hubs . . . As markets change, growth patterns change; you have to go where your customers go," said Fred Smith, FedEx's chief executive. Smith said the runway at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base, cannot be expanded and cannot accommodate new cargo jets. Last year, FedEx had extended its Subic Bay lease to 2010.
NYK Expands In Airfreight: Nippon Yusen Kaisha Group, parent of NYK Line, is expanding its airfreight operations by agreeing to take control of Nippon Cargo Airlines. NCA now is a subsidiary of All Nippon Airways. NYK already holds 27.6 percent of NCA shares, and will double that stake by acquiring All Nippon's shares in NCA. NYK said it will expand its air-cargo-transport business with NCA as an NYK subsidiary, while All Nippon Airlines will further develop its own independent air-cargo business as one of its three core businesses along with its domestic and international passenger-flight businesses. Other major shareholders in NCA include "K" Line and MOL, with 13.2 percent each. NCA operates 12 Boeing 747 freighter planes on a network extending from Japan to the rest of Asia, the U.S. and Europe.
Guam Case Closed After 17 Years: The Federal Maritime Commission has closed a 17-year-old dispute between the government of Guam and two domestic ocean carriers. The commission unanimously voted not to reconsider Guam's request that APL and Sea-Land Service (now Horizon Lines) pay reparations for unreasonably high transportation charges in the late 1980s. In 1998, the FMC determined that APL and Sea-Land charged Guam unreasonably high rates on 18 tariff items between 1988 and 1990. In 2003, an FMC administrative judge denied the territory's government request for reparations, and dismissed the case. The commission's decision denied Guam's objection that the judge improperly dismissed the reparations claim, and granted the carriers' request to dismiss the case.
Truckers Want Money For Late Gates: Harbor trucking companies and drivers in Southern California want extra pay to haul containers on nights and Saturdays under the PierPass program that takes effect on July 23. Some drivers have called for a stop-work meeting on the day the new program begins at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. PierPass aims to smooth the flow of traffic by keeping gates at the ports' 14 terminals open after regular daytime hours. To encourage a shift to after-hours cargo movement, shippers using terminal gates during weekday hours will pay a fee of $80 per FEU. Some drivers have passed out flyers demanding extra compensation for working nights and weekends. Some trucking companies plan to add surcharges to cover PierPass fees, and the drivers want a share of the payment.
NJ Chassis Bill Advances: The New Jersey Senate has sent Acting Gov. Richard Codey a bill to make providers of intermodal chassis responsible for the equipment's safety. The state Assembly previously approved the bill. It would require all chassis providers at port facilities to implement an inspection program that would allow the provider to certify to the state Department of Transportation that each chassis had been inspected and approved before being given to a trucker. Several states have been considering chassis-roadability legislation while Congress studies federal legislation.
Deutsche Post Seeks Cost Cuts: Deutsche Post World Net is looking for cost reductions in preparation for the end of its German postal monopoly at the end of 2007. In an interview with Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Klaus Zumwinkel, chief executive of Deutsche Post, said the company is considering outsourcing services and employees, and reducing volume discounts for corporate clients. Zumwinkel called on other European Union member states to liberalize their postal markets to create fair competition within the region.
Columbia River Dredging Begins: The Army Corps of Engineers has begun deepening the Columbia River channel to 43 feet from its current depth of 40 feet. The $150 million dredging project will cover 106 miles of the river, and affect the ports of Portland and St. Helens, Ore.; and Kalama, Longview, Vancouver and Woodland in Washington.
Gulf Ports Weather Hurricane: Gulf of Mexico ports suffered little damage from Hurricane Dennis, which landed on July 10 near Pensacola, Fla. The ports of Pensacola and Mobile, Ala., reported minor damage to buildings, and were temporarily closed to deep-draft vessels until the Coast Guard could survey aids to navigation and verify adequate channel depths.