Omicron variant prolongs container logistics delays

supply chain container

The Container Transport Alliance Australia (CTAA) director says industry players are facing the hardest conditions ever, with the Omicron variant adding to supply chain disruptions.

Staff shortages, terminal congestion and significant competition to secure vehicle booking slots are combining to create the difficult conditions, according to Neil Chambers from the CTAA.

“Container transport operators across Australia have reported to CTAA that they are experiencing between a 5 per cent to 20 per cent reduction in available staff, including heavy vehicle drivers, warehouse staff, forklift drivers, container unpack crews and administration, due to COVID infections and isolation requirements,” Neil explains.

“Compounding this are staff shortages at customers’ premises, as well as at international container stevedore terminals and at empty container parks across Australia, significantly delaying the movement of containers through the supply chain.

“As a result, transport operators are reporting operational capacity constraints, with transport yards operating between 70 per cent to over 130 per cent capacity.”

Neil says the reduction in capacity is because of delays in customer deliveries, and the need to stage empty import containers through transport yards while trying to secure de-hire slots at clogged empty container parks or container terminals that have reached capacity to receive returns.

“The current supply chain delays and the severe impact of COVID infections seem set to continue well into 2022,” he says.

“DP World Australia has notified industry that approximately 10 per cent of its workforce are impacted through either having contracted COVID-19 or are isolating at home with a positive case in their household. DP World says these numbers may increase as Australia works through the current COVID-19 wave.

“Vessel berthing delays at container terminals across Australia are still of significant concern, impacting all of the major stevedore companies. These delays are being felt most acutely in Sydney and Melbourne, with delays of between 2 up to 9 days, while a heat wave in WA is now affecting terminal productivity in Fremantle.”

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