Five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, public health systems and national economies continue to explore new ways to cope with the impacts of the virus. The international shipping industry has been hit particularly hard by the global spread of COVID-19. Below, we have highlighted the current state of global shipping.

Container Imbalance


In general, container imbalances have become more stable and predictable, and worldwide effects of COVID-19 cases are decreasing from week to week. However, we are continuing to see some equipment shortages at several inland depots in the U.S. In general, the equipment availability at the ports of loading is ok for now.


Cancelled Voyages/Blank Sailings


Blank sailings are continuing around the world due to lack of ocean freight cargo. Blank sailings were first caused due to the Chinese New Year and are now due to the lack of cargo and certain lockdown situations in multiple countries around the world.

Pricing/Rate Hikes/New Surcharges


Aires has fixed ocean freight rates in place, all with a clause not allowing GRIs and new surcharges. However, due to the COVID-19 issues now declared a “force majeure,” all rates are subject to change. Air freight rates have seen the most dramatic change due to the sheer lack of capacity and the need to reposition PPE equipment in the world.


As parts of the world are now trying to open, there could be some improvements with capacity issues. However, the experts believe that it will take at least another 6 weeks to get over the peak of COVID-19 cases before things start to shift in a better direction.


Air Freight: Demand for PPE is continuing to cause an unusual surge in air freight. With demand outpacing capacity, the tremendous spike in air freight rates continues. Looking at the past 20 weeks, it is clear to see the market volumes remain erratic and this will continue into the foreseeable future with the continuous lack of passenger flights. The most heavily hit lane is the Transpacific Trade Lane, and in addition to this, we are continuing to notice COVID-19 emergency support charges tacked on by ground services companies in certain areas.

Ocean Freight: Most ports are continuing to adjust their hours based on need and vessels. We are continuing to see container shortages, and we anticipate this will continue into the near future as this is a worldwide dilemma. We are continuing to notice some “container imbalance surcharges," which will increase rates temporarily. Also, demurrage charges are incurred more frequently due to the limited hours of port operation.

All shippers are urged by the lines to book space as early as possible due to the lack of equipment. The inland depots, as well as several ports in the U.S., are seeing equipment shortages. Most shortages are noted in the Gulf ports as well as inland depots.

In Closing

The global shipping industry will continue to see irregularities until effective treatments and a vaccine are developed to combat COVID-19. As the situation develops, Aires will be there for you to provide the latest information on shipping, immigration, and general mobility industry challenges.

Our focus is on protecting the health and safety of our employees and partners and ensuring that all our transferees have a seamless relocation process. The earlier you can request your move dates, the better we will be able to accommodate your requests. Please note that household goods and personal effects travel at one of the lowest priorities, while demand for cargo space is outpacing capacity.

Please reach out to your Aires representative for more information.



AIT Worldwide Logistics Carrier Impact Updates

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