Even as vaccines are beginning to wash across much of the developed world, new quarantine policies are making crossing borders more difficult for freight as well as for people.
A lot of the new problems are in Europe where a variety of reports are coming in of congestion between Germany and a number of its eastern neighbours. The Federal German government has adopted a policy of border controls with both the Czech Republic and Austria in an attempt to limit what it sees as a dangerous outbreak of the South African variant of COVID-19. Germany has imposed severe restrictions on who can cross the border, including demands that truck drivers provide tests. In a press release on the situation, the IRU (International Road Transport Union) in Geneva commented, “Germany is not exempting truck drivers from new COVID testing requirements. Tyrol and the Czech Republic, in turn, have imposed similar restrictions on drivers transiting their territories towards Germany. Rapid antigen tests are accepted; however, they must be conducted by an authorised laboratory, a difficult requirement for mobile truck drivers working outside their home country.”
This is not only resulting in long queues at the border but also disruption to freight transport across Eastern Europe. At present, there is no discussion of closing the border with Poland or Denmark but there is some talk of extending controls at the French border.
The situation in airports also remains difficult around the world. Dubai International reported a 70% fall in traffic over the past year and many routes in and out of Heathrow look to be becoming non-viable as the UK imposes severe quarantine restrictions on arrivals from a growing list of nations. Airport freight operations remain difficult.
The effects of this situation were illustrated by the announcement by CMA-CGM that it was “buying four 60-tonne-payload Airbus A330-200F freighter aircraft” and opening a dedicated air cargo division within CMA CGM. It is hard not to view this as an investment designed to adapt to a world short of belly-freight capacity.
It seems some in the logistics sector continue to expect disruption for some time yet.
Source: Transport Intelligence, February 16, 2021
Author: Thomas Cullen