Hurricane Sandy hits freight transport


While New York’s JFK and Newark airports were due to re-open this morning at 7am local time, only Newark Liberty International Airport had re-opened on schedule as we went to press. However little information has emerged as to when flights will resume and on which routes.

Yesterday, staff and engineers from the Port of New York and New Jersey Authority inspected its facilities to assess damage. However, subsequent service updates from the Authority have given no indication when the port will re-open to traffic. "We will resume operations at our facilities as early as possible, but only when it is safe to do so." it said. 

Bertrand Ducasse, New York Branch Manager for french forwarder SDV and based at JFK airport, told Lloyd’s Loading yesterday afternoon that its air and ocean freight offices at JFK and Newark airports were closed until further notice. 

“Getting back to normal is going to be a long and difficult process,” he warned, adding that he was unsure whether staff would be able to get into work today as New York’s main bridges had been closed to traffic. 

Commenting on the hurricane’s impact, shipping line CMA CGM said the situation was under control. 

“Our office in New Jersey is closed until further notice but our US HQ in Norfolk is open. Some vessels are waiting outside the port and will berth as soon as the terminals re-open. Others have reduced speed on the way to New York in order to arrive when conditions are safe and terminals ready,” a spokesperson said. 

“At this stage, no vessel has diverted to another port and customers will be able to take delivery of their cargo once unloaded in New York,” she added. 

Quizzed on the impact of Sandy on its activities, FedEx said: “As areas once again become accessible, we are doing all we can to provide the best level of service possible in the wake of this major storm.” 

But it said the safety of staff was paramount so customers should expect delays in areas that are inaccessible due to local restrictions, airport/road/transit closures, flooding, downed power lines and storm debris. 

“We will resume service in those areas as soon as it is safe to do so.” 

FedEx added that it was currently assessing the “financial damage” to the company from the hurricane. 

UK-based supply chain consultancy, Crimson & Co, claimed that many companies had learned the lessons from Hurricane Irene last year and were enacting well-thought contingency plans to lessen the impact of Sandy on business. 

“The possibility of power outages may result in the closing of some manufacturing plants for a day or so but many have prepared alternative power sources. 

“The flow of goods from distribution centres will be slow and those companies that sell direct to consumers will feel this first but the supply teams will quickly be re-planning to minimise both the short term impact and the November holiday season push."