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Iconic American Freight Carrier Yellow Files for Bankruptcy, Ceases Operations

Yellow, an American freight carrier with a nearly century-long operational history, has announced it is suspending its operations and is on the brink of filing for bankruptcy. This development comes in the wake of a substantial financial deficit of about $54.6 million in the first quarter of 2023, coupled with an overwhelming debt of $1.5 billion. The cessation of Yellow’s operations marks one of the most drastic upheavals in the history of American trucking, with potential unemployment looming for an estimated 30,000 workers.

Despite declining diesel costs, the trucking industry is grappling with diminishing profit margins due to intense market rivalry and decreased road freight prices. Yellow, founded in 1924 and headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, offered transportation services to over 800,000 global customers. The halting of Yellow’s operations could have far-reaching implications on the trucking sector, potentially altering supply chain dynamics and heralding shifts in market competition structure.


Settlement in Sight for B.C. Port Dispute as New Contract Vote Nears

Normal operations at the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert in Western Canada continue amidst a looming contract vote. The longshore union and waterfront employers recently announced a tentative contract agreement, which they hope will resolve the month-long uncertainty at the ports. However, the outcome hinges on the endorsement of the agreement by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Canada members, who had turned down an earlier tentative agreement last week.

This contractual dispute primarily focuses on the outsourcing of maintenance work by terminal operators. The tentative deal rejected by the union members last week had been described as not providing adequate protection against such outsourcing. As a result of the current situation, many port terminals have been at risk of operational disruptions, with strikes affecting them for nearly two weeks. This scenario has prompted numerous leaders from the business and political sectors to call for federal intervention to end the impasse. If this issue is not resolved, it could impact the dynamics of the Canadian supply chain and the livelihoods of those who rely on these ports.


Oil Spill at Gibraltar Port

The Gibraltar Port recently experienced a serious challenge to its operations, as well as a potential environmental crisis. On August 1st, 8:22 am, during a refueling operation involving the Panama-flagged tanker Gas Venus, an unexpected overflow of the ship’s tanks led to an oil spill. The event released an estimated 1,000 to 2,000 liters of oil into the bay, contaminating local waters and adjacent coastlines.

The environmental ramifications are significant. With the spill spreading to Camp Bay, Little Bay, and Rosia Bay shores, local fauna, including migratory whales and an endangered gastropod species, face a potential threat. 

In response, the port authority swiftly suspended operations and set up a strategic coordination group to manage the crisis. Activities at the port have since resumed, yet ship-to-ship fuel transfers at sea remain prohibited. Given Gibraltar Port’s essential role in global cargo movement, this disruption presents a considerable challenge to the regular trade flow.

This spill isn’t unprecedented. A similar major incident occurred in September 2022 due to a cargo ship collision. The recurrence underlines the operational and environmental challenges this vital hub encounters, responsible for millions of tons of fuel transfers annually. The Gibraltar Strait is a crucial artery for global trade, handling over 110,000 vessels annually, and the Port of Gibraltar is an important refueling location.


Digital Upgrade at Port Terminals Enhances Vessel Tracking Capabilities

This August, APM Terminals, a major terminal operator, unveiled an advanced Application Programming Interface (API), elevating real-time tracking for all vessels at specific terminals. The newly introduced Terminal Vessel Schedule (TVS) extends the visibility of vessels’ movement, allowing users to trace any vessel’s activity up to a week in the past and two weeks into the future. The upgrade also expanded API connectivity for additional terminals, including two in India and another one in Egypt, thereby advancing its technological reach.

The TVS is a significant leap in providing customers with accurate, real-time data about vital parameters like estimated arrival and departure times, earliest receiving dates, cut-off times for various cargo types, and vessel details. This feature allows customers to integrate this data directly into their internal systems, including transport management systems, thus reducing the need for manual tracking. The reported pricing for this service doesn’t depend on the number of vessels monitored but on unlimited calls for a 30-day period for a particular terminal. This improvement brings the total number of APM terminals with API connectivity to 22, with plans to add five more by year’s end.


Taiwan Responds to Typhoon Khanun 

On August 2nd, 2023, Taiwan responded to the approaching Typhoon Khanun by suspending its financial markets and ordering the closure of offices and schools in most northern regions. Even though the typhoon wasn’t expected to hit Taiwan directly, forecasts predicted heavy rainfall in Taipei, Keelung, and Yilan County. Warnings were issued for the areas along the storm’s anticipated path.

As of the same date, the typhoon was initially headed toward mainland China, but a dramatic change in direction toward the north was expected. On the Japanese island of Okinawa, power was cut off to approximately 170,000 buildings, and recovery efforts have started. These operations may be delayed due to the slow movement of the typhoon. Meanwhile, preparations were made in mainland China for potential impact, with emergency teams already dispatched to Zhejiang province. This typhoon threat comes at a time when Beijing and other regions are grappling with the aftermath of Typhoon Doksuri, which caused heavy flooding and damage, leading to mass evacuations.


Transpacific Route Sees Surge in Blank Sailings, Analysis Reports

Danish maritime data analysis experts recently reported a clear surge in blank sailings on the Transpacific route between Asia and North America’s West Coast (NAWC). Observing the period from June to August 2023, it was found that the number of blank sailings—canceled trips—increased significantly. Due to lagging demand data, these cancellations often serve as a real-time indicator of the shipping market’s strength.

 An interesting pattern was found in the data, particularly at the end of June. Blank sailing activities showed a sharp increase, correlating with an improvement in spot rates. Notably, this pattern was less evident in the Asia-North Europe route, where a similar rise in blank sailings didn’t lead to increased spot rates. There was a noticeable reluctance to cancel sailings on the Asia-MED route despite the substantially higher rates compared to the Asia-North Europe route. These observations hint at different strategies employed in different market areas and the complex relationship between blank sailings, demand, and rates.