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Freight

Air, rail, sea and road freight logistics news round-up

Biden forms emergency panel to avert rail freight strike

US President Joe Biden has created a Presidential Emergency Board (PEB) to resolve ongoing disputes between freight rail carriers and unions.

“The PEB will provide a structure for workers and management to resolve their disagreements,” the White House said in a statement.”

Biden’s move comes with labour talks affecting new contracts for an estimated 115,000 rail workers, and follows an intervention from the US Chamber of Commerce.

President Biden said the goal is to “keep America’s freight rail system running without disruption”.

“Averting a nationwide railroad strike is key, as this threatens to have a devastating effect on US supply chains, said the Chamber’s President, Suzanne Clark.

Labour and employment arbitration specialist Ira F. Jaffe will chair the PEB. Joining him will be Boston College Professor David Twomey, who has helped resolve previous major labour disputes in the rail and airline sectors.

Air freight rates ‘will remain high’, warns logistics expert

Air freight transportation rates are expected to remain above pre-pandemic levels, despite recent slowdowns in demand, reports Air Cargo News.

The insight comes from Brian Bourke, Chief Growth Officer with retail and ecommerce logistics provider, Seko Logistics.

Bourke cites rising inventory levels and inflation as the cause of the slowdown, as well as a return of spending on services as opposed to goods in certain sectors.

But he added that he expected the industry to experience “a peak season this year” and he pointed out volumes were “still ahead of pre-pandemic levels and supply chain disruption continues”.

He told Air Cargo News: “Predictability has disappeared post-pandemic, and we don’t see it coming back. Volumes are down, but this is what we used to call slack season.

“It seems apocalyptic, because it’s the first time in a few years we’re seeing a decrease in volume, but trade remains strong and volumes are still high. We expect a peak season, albeit a very muted one.” 

Bourke added that, despite a slowdown in demand compared with the past two years, air freight rates are likely to stay “at an elevated level due to supply chain disruption caused by labour shortages, possible Covid restrictions, capacity shortages, the war in Ukraine and ongoing port/airport congestion”.

Bourke advised shippers to “take this into consideration” as they consider next year’s budgets.

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