Home » 3PL/4PL » Shipping lines, truckers remain cautious of business prospects

TRANSPORT service providers remain wary of business prospects this year despite improving cargo volumes.

The Association of International Shipping Lines (AISL) said prevailing conditions maybe temporary and unsustainable, a sentiment shared by the Integrated North Harbor Truckers Association (INHTA).

AISL president Patrick Ronas told PortCalls carriers still do not have a clear picture of what will happen in the future. “The growth right now could be artificial and everyone should look at it very cautiously,” he said.

“We still do not know if the recent spike in business is already constant and sustainable because as of now volume is still erratic… we will know by this month when carriers sign the service contracts if the volume is sustainable,” Ronas said.

May is the month when most shipping contracts are signed between carriers and their shippers.

“In terms of rates, they are still down but increasing and are already at pre-crisis levels,” the AISL president said, adding the rates cannot increase significantly overnight as they are driven by market forces.

Skeptical truckers

Trucking operators who, in the first quarter of the year, experienced double-digit growth in cargo volume are just as skeptical as the shipping lines.

The operators said it is hard to predict if they are indeed seeing signs of a recovery considering the erratic import and export volumes.

Fuel price, North Harbor

Integrated North Harbor Truckers Association (INHTA) president Salvador Tan told PortCalls most INHTA members maintain a cautious outlook partly because of fuel issues and the current chaos at the North Harbor.

Fuel prices have been going up and down in the last few weeks. The turnover of the North Harbor to a new operator, on the other hand, has caused shipment delays and losses to shipping operators.

“In the first three months of the year, we posted a 20% increase in volume which we carried compared to the same period in 2009,” Tan said.

“However, the figure is still below our pre-crisis volume,” Tan explained, noting that the trucking sector is hoping the second semester may bring a return to such levels.

“We are keeping our fingers crossed that the current problems at the North Harbor will be addressed satisfactorily at the soonest possible time as they have been dragging our operations lately,” he said.

Truck turnaround at the North Harbor is now down to two round trips a week from the usual four to five per week, resulting in lower revenues for truckers.

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