Category: International bali cargo forwarder


This time last year European Abnormal Freight Ltd (EAF) was asked in April 2011 to help move the 117 tonne, 4 metre square granite Tsunami Memorial from France to London. As freight forwarding projects go it was the biggest transportation of a single piece of stone in the UK or France since the building of Stonehenge and the tale of how the giant piece came to arrive at the Natural History Museums gardens is worth telling.

Transports Courcelle in France were granted the haulage contract whilst EAF was appointed the UK Transport Project Manager whose management role was to provide full route planning with owner Marc Wodehouse taking personal control. The UK Highways Agency had stipulated that, once the convoy arrived by ferry from Cherbourg into Poole, it would have to utilise a coastal barge from Poole to London. EAF successfully lobbied all the relevant parties and obtained a special permission “BE16 Dispensation” to transport the load entirely by road. This alone saved the project more than £60k in barge and extra crane costs.

The project was mainly funded by a £500,000 grant from the Department for Sport, Media & Culture and the unveiling of the memorial was scheduled for the 5th July opening by HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.EAF successfully addressed ground strengthening and weight issues with London Underground and re-scheduling of long term works on Cromwell Road by British Gas. Apart from Prince Charles’s diary there was an extensive summer and autumn programme of “trial” road closures, by the London Olympic committee which could affect the delivery programme.

The load had to arrive on the weekend of the 28th June 2011 and failure to meet this deadline would put the project back to May 2013. Three weeks before the ceremony, serious loading issues in Castres, France had delayed the scheduled start date from the 4th to the 15th of June. The Transit time in France alone was 11 days and to exacerbate the situation there was now a public holiday in the middle of the revised schedule. Courcelle also confirmed that the new timescale meant it was impossible to meet the arrival date in the UK of the 28th June because French Law forbids “Convoi Exceptionnel” transport taking place over on weekends.

With the exception of humanitarian loads, the French government have never given dispensation to drive abnormal loads on weekends. As far as all parties were concerned, the project was on the verge of collapse. EAF stepped in and over five very challenging days corresponded with the Department for Sport, Media & Culture, the French Embassy in London, five prefectures, the British Embassy in Paris and, ultimately, the French Ministry of Culture & Media.

At 4pm on the afternoon of the 14th June (one hour before close of play), as a result of a telephone conversation with the Minister of Culture & Media for France, Monsieur Frédéric Mitterrand, and his direct intervention, EAF obtained the first ever dispensation for a “Super Heavy” Load to travel on French roads on a weekend, thus maintaining the original schedule.

Mike Holland, Chairman of the Tsunami Memorial Project, commented:

“EAF’s Marc Wodehouse was absolutely key to the successful delivery of the Memorial, he became part of us rather than just an external supplier. Whenever we faltered he found a solution, failure was never an option and Marc’s positive attitude became the standard we came to demand from everyone. I am deeply grateful and indebted to Marc for his enthusiasm, total dedication and great humour no matter how difficult the challenge. We would not have succeeded without him.”

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US – CHINA – Following our story last month concerning the rebranding of YRC Worldwide, the trucking and logistics group, which incorporates subsidiary YRC Freight, has, as predicted, continued its disposal of assets with the sale of the groups interest in Shanghai Jiayu Logistics Co., Ltd. to its 35-percent joint venture partner. YRC bought its 65% stake in the company in 2008 after a period stretching back several years when it had grown enormously through an acquisition policy started when the Yellow Corporation bought out the Roadway Corporation in a billion dollar deal to form the Yellow Roadway Corporation.

YRC paid $47.7 million when they purchased their share of Shanghai Jiayu Logistics, principally a less than truckload road haulage outfit, but never took up the option they had to buy the balance of shares in 2010 at the $14 million agreed. The deal was described at the time by then Chairman, President and CEO of YRC Worldwide, Bill Zollars, as, “The next step in building a comprehensive portfolio of logistics services for our customers in China.”

As there has been no word from YRC we must assume their investment in JHJ International Transport, which covers all of mainland China having offices throughout the country, remains intact. The sale of Jiayu is subject to Chinese regulatory approval and expected to close in the second quarter of 2012. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. James Welch, chief executive officer of YRC Worldwide, commented:

“This is another important step in the continuing process to sharpen our focus on North American less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping. Our emphasis on core LTL services has resulted in significant increases in on-time service and our customers are responding very favourably. This transaction allows us to further simplify our portfolio and streamline our operations as we concentrate on regaining the North American LTL market leader position.”

US – Sadly some of our best read stories concern the criminal activities of the few freight forwarding executives who are prepared to break the law in order to turn a profit. As times get harder financially the line between fair competition and conspiracy blurs for some as evidenced by the surge in anti trust cases prosecuted globally which we have witnessed in the past two years. Some acts however are blatantly criminal and this week two cases concerning the cargo screening and shipping of air freight have resulted in the prosecution and punishment of several individuals and companies involved in nefarious activities.

The first case concerns the arrest and detention of Ulrich Davis aged 50 who was caught as he tried to board a flight to the Netherlands at Newark Liberty International Airport last August. Davis, a Dutch national, pleaded guilty this week to charges of conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act and the Iranian Transactions Regulations by misdeclaring chemicals and aircraft parts destined for Iran.

Evidence against Davis was overwhelming in that e mails he had sent to another company made it plain he knew what he was doing was illegal. The items concerned were suspected to be for military use and one of the consignees were allegedly described as ‘C-130 Red Crescent’ seemingly implying the supplies were for a section of the International Red Cross. Observers have speculated that these were parts for C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft at least twelve of which are still in service with the Iranian air force.

Davis used his position as manager of a Netherlands based freight forwarder with a New Jersey office (we are not allowed to name the company) to issue and conspire with others to issue airwaybills showing false details, the nature of the goods being such that they constituted a threat to national security. Because of his guilty plea Davis will avoid the maximum term of twenty years imprisonment but is likely to receive a five year term plus a fine up to a quarter of a million dollars when sentenced.

In the second case three employees of OHL (part of Ozburn-Hessey Logistics, LLC), a subsidiary previously being known as ActivAir and one of the world’s largest third party logistics providers, have each pleaded guilty following a federal investigation. The three confessed to failing to screen cargo due to load on passenger flights despite strict regulations as to how the procedure should be undertaken.

The offences occurred at the company’s Fortune Circle premises at Indianapolis Airport and once again penalties could be up to five years in prison with quarter of a million dollar fines for each defendant. Mitchell Totty, Brian Vanhandel and Andrew Barnes are each accused of conspiring together to violate the law instituted in 2010 which insists on accurate records regarding screened cargo following incidents when bombs were discovered whilst being carried as freight aboard passenger aircraft in Dubai and the UK.

OHL has fully cooperated with the authorities and accepted responsibility for its employees behaviour but the admission led to the company receiving a record fine of $1 million for the offences and U.S. Attorney Joe Hogsett commented the safety of the travelling public was paramount and that there could be no tolerance for shortcuts when matters of national security were involved.

Bali Cargo news – Another pair of scalps for the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) yesterday with the news that Ulrich Ogiermann and Robert Van de Weg, two executives from Luxembourg carrier Cargolux Airlines International S.A., have received jail terms of thirteen months each for their parts in the air freight cartel activities which have scandalised the industry, after personal indictments against them to which they entered guilty pleas.

Cargolux, from the Grand Duchy and the largest European all cargo airline, has been quick to accept responsibility for its actions, pleading guilty in May 2009 and agreeing a fine of $119 million for its role in conspiring with others to suppress and eliminate competition by fixing and coordinating surcharges, including security and fuel surcharges, charged to customers located in the United States and elsewhere for air cargo shipments.

According to the indictment, Ogiermann, a ‘special advisor’ to the Company and a former president and CEO, participated in the conspiracy from at least as early as October 2001 until at least February 2006, and Van de Weg, the senior vice president of sales and marketing for Cargolux, participated in the conspiracy from at least as early December 2003 until at least February 2006. Under their plea agreements, Ogiermann and Van de Weg have also each agreed to pay a $20,000 criminal fine and to cooperate with the department’s ongoing investigation.

Including Ogiermann and Van de Weg, a total of 22 airlines and 21 executives have been charged in the Justice Department’s continuing enquiries into price fixing in the air transportation industry. To date, more than $1.8 billion in criminal fines have been imposed and four executives have been sentenced to serve prison time. The two men were charged with price fixing in violation of the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum fine of $1 million and up to 10 years in prison. The maximum fine may be increased to twice the gain derived from the crime or twice the loss suffered by the victims of the crime, if either of those amounts is greater than the statutory maximum fine.

Unlike many of those found guilty of the charges against them Cargolux has been open about the actions it took at the time. The company has stressed that neither man was accused of making any personal gains from their actions and, while expressing its regret for the executives personally, the company views their decision to plead guilty as a way to finally bring this matter to a controlled close both for them and the company. A search of our archives (type key words like cartel or anti trust in the News Search Box) will reveal the extent to which the freight and logistics sector walks a fine line between cooperation and collusion and this situation extends throughout the entire industry from freight forwarders to ocean container fleets.

This week saw two of the most substantial players in their own fields underline similar tactics for dealing with a turbulent freight market. Clarksons the London based shipping services group announced it had acquired EnShip Ltd the Aberdeen based shipping agency and marine industry logistics specialist via its Clarksons Port Services Group. Meanwhile French giant Norbert Dentressangle completed its acquisition of APC Beijing International, a China-based freight forwarding company.

Enship, formed in 2004, has built a reputation as a vessel agency within the UK, as well as being a provider of related support services to both its UK customers and worldwide client base. EnShip also encompasses Opex Industrial Supplies, a procurement house supplying the marine, oil and gas industries. It will retain brand identity and Clarksons says it complements its port sector strategy to expand its geographical reach and broaden its services to existing and new customers in bulk shipping and the offshore and renewable industries. Gross assets acquired amounted to £3 million.

Dentressangle has followed up the Memorandum of Understanding signed in July to take over, APC Beijing International which last year generated revenue of €50 million. APC employs a staff of 270 spread throughout 16 offices strategically located in China’s key costal and inland regions. Known best for its European road haulage operations the acquisition strengthens Dentressangle’s foothold in Asia and says it will enhance the company’s service offering in airfreight forwarding

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