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Latest News headlines from BIFA

Posted on Wednesday November 22, 2017

Robert Keen, BIFA's Director General says: “The economic outlook in the run up to Brexit remains challenging and there is massive uncertainty about the UK's future trading relations with Europe.

“Whilst the Brexit negotiations rumble on, our members need Phillip Hammond to take some immediate steps to improve the operating environment for a sector that is the lifeblood of the UK's international trade.

“In his autumn statement this time last year, Mr Hammond announced plans that financial support for UK exporters would double through UK Export Finance (UKEF). That’s the sort of initiative that can fuel international trade and our members would welcome an announcement of further support in today’s Budget.

“For some years there has been a freeze on fuel duty. Now we repeat our call for an outright cut, the introduction of an essential user rebate and some form of fuel duty stabilisation mechanism.

“Previously, BIFA has welcomed news of capital spending on transport infrastructure. We hope to hear more good news in this area.

“It is imperative that new road building and road reconstruction projects are not only implemented, but developed in such a way as to maximise their functionality.

“Any news of further financial support for UK exporters, a cut of fuel duty and additional transport infrastructure investment in today’s Budget will be warmly welcomed by BIFA members, which as freight forwarders, are responsible for the logistics services that underpin much of Britain’s visible domestic and international trade.

Posted on Wednesday November 15, 2017

Commenting after the publication of a report by the Committee, the trade association for UK freight forwarders agrees that more needs to be done to manage the huge uncertainty faced by a large number of traders over the matter of future Customs declarations once the UK leaves the European Union (EU).

Director General, Robert Keen, says that the issues concerning Customs matters is probably the biggest concern voiced by the trade association’s members at present.

Keen states: “We are actively involved with HMRC and have always recommended that there needs to be wider engagement with all who are engaged in processing international trade to give them as much time as possible to prepare and to allay fears.

“We agree that our members and the trading companies that they serve need better and more regular information about the development of the Customs Declaration Service (CDS), which is scheduled to replace the current  Customs Handling of Import and Export Freight (CHIEF) system.

“We regularly explain the potential Customs benefits to our members of obtaining trusted trader status under the EU’s Authorised Economic Operator system, which the Committee sees as being of potential use for facilitating international trade procedures whatever form Brexit finally takes.

“We are looking forward to receiving further reassurance from HMRC that the CDS system and the CHIEF contingency option are capable of managing the likely huge increase in the number of Customs declarations every year, if no trade deal between the UK and EU is concluded.

“We share the Committee’s concern that HMRC does not yet have the necessary funding and resources to produce the infrastructure that will be required to facilitate Customs processes post-Brexit.

“We also appreciate that HMRC recognises the scale of the task it faces in preparing for the UK exiting the EU. BIFA will continue to work closely with them to help ensure a successful delivery of systems that will meet the needs of our members who, at the end of the day, are responsible for facilitating a considerable proportion of the UK’s visible trade.

“It is clear that there will be many problems if the new customs system is not in place and functioning efficiently by the scheduled date that the UK is set to leave the European single market and the Customs Union in March 2019.

“Any failure in the new Customs system would most likely lead to huge disruption for businesses, with significant delays at ports and airports of entry.”

Posted on Monday November 13, 2017

The new proposed crossing over, or rather under, the River Thames, planned to be the nearest to the mouth of the estuary, is always going to be somewhat controversial right up to, and indeed after, the cars and HGVs start to roll through it. Whilst the average motorist or freight truck driver will doubtless welcome the development, many locals are upset at the continuing uncertainty of the precise details of what is envisaged.

Obviously it is important however for all due consideration to be given to both the size of the actual tunnel and the approach roads, and indeed to the actual route between Essex and Kent in a scheme which it is hoped will relieve the constant traffic flow, and all too regular delays, when travelling via the Dartford crossings, themselves for many years the subjects of controversy. Highways England have made up to date information available to all and anyone is free to sign up for updates by email HERE.

Whilst Highways England cogitate on the details of the final scheme there will be a further consultation next year and the opinions expressed at that time will help shape the development of proposals before an application for a Development Consent Order is submitted to the authorities.

There has already been some tinkering with the original incarnation which in Kent now sees the A226 junction removed from the scheme to reduce local traffic impact, to anyone familiar with the area an eminently sensible move, the A2 will host a new junction design and widening of the A2 to M2, junction 1 to reduce congestion and improve traffic flow, whilst roads on either bank are likely to see upgrades to three lanes, as opposed to the original two, in a bid to future proof the plans.

Essex unsurprisingly now sees the planned route deviate around the huge landfill site in Ockenden. There will be a new junction adjacent to east Tilbury with a link road specifically to aid the throughput of HGVs. For some residents the best news is the redesign of the A13 meaning the proposed junction with the A128 is removed from the scheme. This notification was met with guarded optimism by locals who otherwise were likely to have been forcibly moved.

One such affected body is the South Essex Wildlife Hospital, a well-respected charity which relies entirely on public donations to fund its work rescuing sick and injured wild animals from hedgehogs to badgers on a daily basis and which had hitherto feared it might be uprooted by the original plans. Sue Schwar founder of the Hospital, commented:

”It’s good news that the A128 will not be so badly hit by this scheme as previously proposed although we await details of the final plans. One factor to consider is the amount of traffic which is likely to reroute from other roads and the potential widening of the A128 to accommodate this which might prove a hazard to us in the future.”

As to the final design of the tunnel, its overall length and the actual size and siting of the entrances, there are currently no firm plans, so residents in both counties will doubtless be watching carefully as things develop. What is certain is that there will be a cost, the Dartford crossing was to have been free from charges when paid for, a pattern started in 1963 with the opening of the first tunnel and which continued until the final PFI payment on the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge in April 2003.

It was then that the Highways Agency reneged on that agreement, deciding that the charges would continue, despite all previous promises, and ongoing tolls be payable to itself under the auspices of the 2000 Transport Act. So don’t anyone have high hopes of a free ride under the river via the new link in this lifetime if history is to be believed.

Source: Handy Shipping Guide

Posted on Monday November 13, 2017

The site, called Thames Enterprise Park, is located on the site of the former Coryton oil refinery on the River Thames.

The new facility will include a food hub; energy hub; sustainable industries hub and an innovation hub – creating up to 5,000 new jobs for the region.

Planning permission has been granted for the remediation of the first phase of around 100 acres. An outline planning application is due to be submitted to Thurrock Council by the end of 2017, with a consent anticipated in summer 2018. This will allow the first development plots to be ready by early 2019.

“The scale of the development will allow food distributors and manufacturers to locate in “clusters”, enabling more efficient supply chains directly into London and more widely,” said Mike Forster, Development Director, iSec.

“This gives potential for cost and energy reduction in a sector that is sometimes resource inefficient and in need of increased automation.”

Source: Logistics Manager

Posted on Thursday November 09, 2017

BIFA Members that arrange deliveries or collections at Heathrow will be aware of massive congestion recently at the area known as “The Horseshoe”.

Please be assured that BIFA is continually representing Member interests in discussion with all stakeholders including airlines, handling sheds, Heathrow Airport Ltd., SEGRO, and hauliers working on behalf of BIFA Members. A press release was issued last week which has received widespread coverage in industry publications

Time to end congestion at Heathrow’s cargo centre.

Discussions are ongoing how to mitigate the traffic flows and change working procedures however it must be remembered that the terminal was planned in the 1960s and without wholesale reconstruction any outcomes will be limited.

Please be assured that this topic is top of our in tray at present and any developments will be communicated by postings on bifa.org and in our e-newsletters (if you do not receive these you can sign up at our website).

Posted on Monday November 06, 2017

At BIFA and FIATA we encourage authorised members to display our logos affirming that they belong to organisations that set standards and encourage good practice. However, fraudulent websites will often display our logos to mislead consumers into believing that they are genuine. Whilst this is particularly prevalent in websites offering cars for sale, it is not limited to this.

A UK member has published comprehensive advice on such car selling scams, which can be read here.

How do you know that a website displaying our logos is genuine?

Never “click through” from a logo if you are suspicious, as this may redirect you to a fake webpage deliberately created to confirm authenticity.

You must go directly to www.bifa.org or www.fiata.com and search the member directories. If you are outside of the UK and you access www.fiata.com you may have to look up the individual association representing a country, such as BIFA in the UK, and then go direct to them to verify the identity of the company you are checking on.

Fraudulent companies spring up and disappear as soon as they have scammed money or goods. There is no recourse and whilst our logos are recognised it is impossible to pre-empt the fraudsters.

Remember! when buying online beware of fraudsters, so check, check and check again.

Posted on Thursday November 02, 2017

Robert Keen, the British International Freight Association’s (BIFA) Director General says: “Congestion at the horseshoe is as bad as it has ever been and the local police are now turning away vehicles, leading to a huge rise in complaints from our members.

“Britain's largest port by value recently announced that its cargo volumes have soared over the past 12 months. Last month its non-executive Lord Deighton launched a new plan to minimise the impact of emissions caused by freight vehicles around the airport.

“The plan highlighted ten major steps to be taken in order to handle Heathrow’s cargo operations more efficiently, responsibly and sustainably in the future.

“The plan talks about such things as a Heathrow Cargo Cloud app for local forwarders, upgrading cargo infrastructure at the airport to facilitate additional airside transhipments, the provision of consolidation points away from airport’s local roads, and the development of a new cargo village to help reduce unnecessary vehicle movements.

“We understand the airport will collaborate with local authorities to address congestion points with the introduction of a code of conduct for operators and a joint strategic freight plan for local roads.

“Our members, who currently are enduring misery on a daily basis when using the airport’s cargo centre, want action not words.”

Posted on Thursday November 02, 2017

Freight capacity (measured in available freight tonne kilometers or AFTKs), rose by 3.9% compared to September of last year —less than half the pace of demand growth. This is positive for industry load factors, yields, and financial performance.

It appears that the industry has passed a cyclical growth peak. The upward trend in seasonally-adjusted freight volumes in Q3 has eased and the inventory-to-sales ratio in the US is now trending sideways. This indicates that the period when companies look to restock inventories quickly—which often gives air cargo a boost—has ended.

"Demand for air cargo grew by 9.2% in September. While that’s slower than in previous months, it remains stronger than anything we have seen in recent memory. But there are signs that this demand spurt may have peaked. So it becomes even more important to reinforce the industry’s competitiveness by accelerating the modernization of its many antiquated processes," said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

With year-to-date demand growth of 10.1%, the IATA forecast of 7.5% growth in air freight demand for 2017 appears to have significant upside potential even if the peak of the economic cycle has passed.

September 2017
(% year-on-year)

World share¹





Total Market












Asia Pacific












Latin America






Middle East






North America






¹% of industry FTKs in 2016   ²Year-on-year change in load factor   ³Load factor level

Regional Performance    

Airlines in all regions reported an increase in year-on-year demand in September.

  • Asia-Pacific airlines saw freight volumes increase by 9.3% in September 2017, compared to the same period last year. Capacity in the region expanded 5.3%.  Demand growth was strong on all the major routes to, from and within Asia-Pacific, consistent with strong export order books for the region’s manufacturers. Exporters in Chinese Taipei, China and Japan all reported growing order books.

  • North American carriers posted an increase in freight volumes of 7.4% for the month; the region also posted the second fastest international growth rate among regions (11.0%). Capacity increased 1.4%. The strength of the US dollar boosted the inbound freight market in recent years. Data from the US Census Bureau shows a 12.0% increase in air imports to the US in the first seven months of 2017, compared to a slower rise in export orders of 6.6%. However, there are signs that the decline in the US dollar since the start of the year is beginning to rebalance trade flows. In August 2017, the most recent month for which data are available, exports from the US by air grew 12.7% while imports by air grew more slowly at 7.4%.

  • European airlines posted a 10.3% increase in freight demand in September 2017, and a capacity increase of 5.6%. Concerns that the recent strengthening of the euro might have affected the region’s exporters have not materialized. In fact, German manufacturers’ export orders are growing at their fastest pace in more than seven years. Freight demand is strongest on the routes to and from Asia - which have received a boost in trade from the economic stimulus measures put in place by China - and across the Atlantic.

  • Middle Eastern carriers’ year-on-year freight volumes increased 8.9% in September 2017 and capacity increased 2.6%. This was a slowdown in demand from the previous month. A short-lived weak patch in demand in Q3 2016 has meant that recent months have produced volatility in the year-on-year growth rate. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes, however, have continued to trend upwards at a rate of 8% over the past six months. Still, strong competition, particularly on the Asia-Europe route, means that Middle East carriers are not seeing as healthy a pickup in the seasonally-adjusted traffic trend as carriers in other regions.

  • Latin American airlines experienced a growth in demand of 7.6% in September 2017 and capacity increased by 5.9% compared to the same period in 2016. International freight volumes rose by 8.6% over the same period. This is well above the five-year average rate of 0.1%. The pick-up in demand reflects signs of economic recovery in the region’s largest economy, Brazil. Seasonally-adjusted international freight volumes are now back to the levels seen at the end of 2014.

  • African carriers posted the largest year-on-year increase in demand of all regions in September 2017, with freight volumes rising 17.7%. This is a slowdown from August but still more than twice the five-year average growth pace of 8.9%. Capacity increased by 2.6% over the same time period. Demand has been boosted by very strong growth on the trade lane to and from Asia which increased by more than 67% in the first eight months of the year. However the upward trend in seasonally-adjusted volumes has flattened in recent months.

View September air freight results (pdf)

Posted on Thursday November 02, 2017

But this will leave shippers with significantly fewer sailings each week.

According to new research from SeaIntel, there will be 90 vessels of 14,000 teu-plus delivered to carriers over the next three years, which means that by 2020, this size vessel will account for 88% of the ships operating between Asia and Europe.

And if all the newbuilds are delivered according to schedule, by then 125 vessels on the Asia-North Europe trade would be 18,000 teu and above.

SeaIntel added that if demand remained at current levels, the delivery schedule would mean that the trade’s entire needs could be covered by just 15 weekly services deploying 165 vessels across the three main deepsea alliances.

“Assuming a healthy 5% demand growth in the coming three years, and also assuming the same degree of vessel utilisation as seen in 2017, it will essentially force each of the alliances to eliminate one of their current services,” it said.

It means carriers have the potential to order another 14 18,000 teu vessels – pushing the forecasted level of 125 18,000 teu-plus vessels in 2020 to the 165 required to run 15 services, making the trade entirely mega-ULCV-operated.

In turn, that would likely mean the trade’s existing 14,000-17,000 teu vessels cascaded to the Asia-Mediterranean trade. But it is doubtful whether it could cope with that sort of influx, as that would mean that 84% of vessels on that trade would be 14,000 teu-plus size, “and the trade lane will be entirely unable to absorb more than a small portion of the spill-over from the North European trade”.

SeaIntel chief executive Alan Murphy added: “Of course, 18,000 teu-plus vessels can also be phased directly into the Mediterranean trade, there is nothing preventing this. From that perspective, the field is wide open for more orders of 18,000 teu-plus tonnage.

“However, this would further exacerbate the cascading issues.”

Source: The Loadstar

Posted on Friday October 27, 2017

Those short-listed in the various categories are as follows:

Air Cargo Services (sponsored by IAG Cargo)

  • 512 Sheffield Ltd
  • Ligentia UK Ltd
  • Metro Shipping
  • NNR Global Logistics

Cool (sponsored by American Airlines Cargo)

  • GBA Services
  • Morgan Cargo
  • Pharmafreight
  • Unsworth Global Logistics

Extra Mile (sponsored by Descartes)

  • Connaught Air Service
  • MIQ Logistics
  • Morgan Cargo
  • Ucargo LLP

Ocean Services (Sponsored by Clecat)

  • 512 Sheffield Ltd
  • Hemisphere Freight Services
  • Moto Freight
  • Ucargo

Project Forwarding (sponsored by Peter Lole & Co)

  • Connaught Air Services
  • OIA Global Ltd
  • Priority Freight
  • Superior Freight Services

Specialist Services (sponsored by Forward Computers)

  • Advanced Forwarding
  • B&H Worldwide
  • Cargo Forwarding Ltd (TR Logistics Group)
  • James Cargo Services

Staff Development (sponsored by Albacore Systems)

  • Customs Clearance Ltd
  • Dachser Ltd
  • Maltacourt Ltd
  • Unsworth Global Logistics

Supply Chain Management (sponsored by BoxTop Technologies)

  • B&H Worldwide
  • Dimerco
  • Ligentia UK Ltd
  • Yusen Logistics

Submissions from the finalists in each category now go forward to the sponsor judging panel where they will be examined in detail to select the winners.

Such was the quality of the Young Freight Forwarder entries this year that the judging panel has taken the decision to declare five finalists, each of whom will be invited to a face-to-face interview where they will have the opportunity to discuss their careers to date and their ambitions for the future.

Young Freight Forwarder (sponsored by Virgin Atlantic Cargo)

  • Irene Borghi (Cargonet Limited)
  • Louis Perrin (Hemisphere Freight Services)
  • Scott Showell (Damco)
  • Kate Town (TPS Global Logistics)
  • Lee Wells (512 (Sheffield) Ltd)

The winners will be announced at the BIFA Awards Ceremony Luncheon being held on Thursday 18th January 2018 at its traditional home, The Brewery in central London.

Event host, celebrity chef, musician, and 'Dragon Slayer' Levi Roots will present certificates to all category finalists, as well as trophies to the category winners.

Robert Keen, BIFA’s Director General, commented: “The BIFA Freight Service Awards ceremony is an opportunity to celebrate the strengths of our dynamic sector, network with peers, and liaise with BIFA representatives. The awards encourage entries from a variety of companies, with the aim of identifying the highest standards of service across the British freight forwarding industry. Each and every submission was of the utmost excellence and I give my sincere thanks to all entrants and wish the finalists the best of luck.”