The coronavirus COVID-19 has officially spread to over 70 countries worldwide, with over 90,000 cases reported. Wuhan, China, the central location for the outbreak has been under a government restricted lockdown as officials try to stop the spread. Other cities across Asia, the Middle East, and Europe are taking precautionary measures as the numbers continue to rise; local governments have announced quarantines and other restrictions, along with numerous suspensions and cancellations.

As such, the transportation industry has experienced significant disruptions as a result of the virus. It is estimated that almost 2 million TEU are currently idle, a direct result of falling ocean demand. A recent analysis also predicts that the financial cost to container lines will be around $2bn. With the announcement of ongoing flight cancellations by airlines, the ripple effects of COVID-19 are being felt throughout global supply chains as capacity constraints are expected to continue.

How will COVID-19 affect you
Global supply chains and the transportation industry have experienced significant disruptions, including the shortage of capacity, airline cancellations, and falling global markets arising from the COVID-19 outbreak. We expect additional capacity restraints within the realms of ocean, air, and domestic movement as the global numbers of the virus continue to rise. While we cannot anticipate the full extent, development, and scale of these ongoing effects, we at Turners Shipping remain committed to safeguarding our clients’ supply chain and to mitigating disruptions arising therefrom.

What can you do now?

  • Contact Turners Shipping to support the urgent move of your cargo via Rail to Europe (east to west) and air charter support
  • Contact Turners Shipping to support any sourcing changes you may want to make
  • Prepare and share your volume forecast based on the backlog with your providers ASAP
  • Focus on priority cargo knowing the likelihood of rolled bookings
  • Avoid CFS consolidation due to the likelihood of bottlenecks
  • Use a single-source provider to co-ordinate collection, freight and customs brokerage
  • Adjust lead times within your systems given likely delays to production and destination screening
  • Plan for higher shipping costs across all modes due to constraints and expected rate increases

Air Transport Update
The following airlines have suspended operations of passenger aircraft to and from mainland China. We are however able to secure space on freighter aircraft ex various airports in China.

Please contact our Air Imports Department for more information on pricing & space availability:
JHN Air Imports –
DBN Air Freight –
CPT Imports –

  • American Airlines – Flights Resume April 25th
  • Lufthansa – Flights Resume April 24th (Lufthansa Cargo plans to maintain connections to and from Mainland China with cargo aircraft with limited space availability.)
  • US Air – Cancelled flights to Tokyo, Osaka, Singapore and Seoul because of COVID-19; its China flights remain suspended through April 30th.
  • Cathay – Starting to accept more general cargo bookings for freighter network. However, many Passenger flights in March remain cancelled due to low passenger demand.
  • Air France/KLM – All flights to/from Shanghai (PVG) and Beijing (PEK) have been suspended up to and including 15 March 2020.  As from 16 March 2020, AF (together with KLM) will gradually resume operations to/from Shanghai and Beijing, alternating one daily flight to each destination.
  • Qatar – Suspending all passenger flights to mainland China until further notice.  Freighters are still operating as normal with limited space.

Ocean Transport Update
The following shipping lines have been affected globally:

  • Hamburg Sud – Yard congestion for reefer containers and high utilization of on-dock reefer capacity are still critical in Shanghai and Xingang. An increase in import reefer throughput into Ningbo terminal has also led to yard density to reach critical levels. In general, trucking capacity has increased, and the number of daily units being processed is slowly increasing, but still significantly lower than normal throughput. In the interim period, we are working on temporary solutions, while ensuring to maintain the cold chain for all reefer containers. If clients elect to make a change of destination, we will waive the usual change of destination costs.
  • ECU – Space overall is consequently becoming extremely tight on a lot of Transpacific services including the Middle East and Indian Sub-Continent regions, leading vessel operators to announce multiple GRIs for the months of March & April.
  • One – New bookings to/from all ports in Hubei province including Wuhan are suspended, and staff will continue to liaise with clients who have shipments already in progress to discuss the most appropriate course of action for these.
  • Hapag-Lloyd – All terminals and depots are now open. However, some are still operating at limited capacity. Furthermore, trucker’s shortage remains an issue.

For more information, please contact our Ocean Imports Department
JHB Imports –
General –
CPT Imports –

Contact your support team at Turners Shipping for any further updates, guidance and requirements. We are committed to providing advice, tailor-made solutions and service excellence as we work together to overcome these constraints.

Turners Shipping Durban: 031 368 8000 – Neren Dayanand
Turners Shipping Cape Town: 021 506 6200 – Linda Newby
Turners Shipping Johannesburg: 011 400 6300 – Marlon Reddy