DB Schenker Air Freight Intermodal Solutions Airplane Inside Loading

Customer Advisory COVID-19 Global Update

March 16, 2021

Please find here the newest edition of our COVID-19 global customer advisory update. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt all industries and geographies. We will keep updating you on a bi-weekly level and we hope that this continuous reporting will give a little guidance and orientation in these difficult times.

For the time being the conditions under which we all operate will continue to be disruptive and far from normal. We look forward to continue our update services as long as the global pandemic influences the economy, hence our common business.

Please continue to be engaged with your DB Schenker Account Managers on your latest plans, prices and projections. They will invest utmost effort to support your business with corresponding solutions.

Executive Summary

Air Freight

  • Market demand continues to grow especially from Europe and North America as well as key economies in Asia Pacific throughout March.
  • Supply remains limited as utilization of freighter aircrafts is continuing at record levels with limited chances of additional supply and flights aside of passenger freighter options.
  • Mode shift from Ocean to Air continues as especially demand for larger airfreight shipments has increased in recent weeks now also impacting the transatlantic trade lane.

Ocean Freight

  • Market outlook for 2021 shows a growth in all trades between 3 to 5%.
  • Capacity withdrawals ex Asia to Europe and North America during March to allow vessel sliding to correct schedules and ease the impact of congestion at destination.
  • Volume flows ex APAC to all destinations remain strong, to last well into 2nd quarter. Volumes ex EU soaring up, especially to the Americas, leading to increased rates.
  • Equipment availability situation in APAC improving; occasional bottlenecks in China and Southeast Asia however a severe ongoing deficit in Europe.
  • Global carrier schedule reliability down to just 35%. Increased Fuel cost will impact rates from Q2 / 2021 onwards.

Land Transport

  • Restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are re-established in several European countries, directly or indirectly affecting transportation.
  • In case of disruptions, we follow our pre-defined contingency plans to ensure flows of cargo. We are adapting our transport service offerings daily to the needs of our customers.
  • Some receivers continue to have limited operations. All shippers may check the delivery possibility with the consignee to avoid cost for storage or return shipments.

Contract Logistics

  • Our operations and respective customer services remain stable globally.
  • We continue prioritizing protection of our staff and keeping our customers’ businesses running,
    hence BCP’s and preventive measures are in place and monitored around the world, incl. social distancing with latest technology PPE support like distancing bracelets (in addition to masks, temperature control, sanitizing stations etc.) and respective controlling of health and safety regulations.
  • To support our customers on short call, we continue offering idle space, short-term warehousing and all conceivable value-added services.
  • By handling medical devices and PPE worldwide (as part of our integrated end-to-end healthcare services) we provide support for distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccination, foster medical centers and respective treatments.

Global Market Updates

Various pharmaceutical companies have received emergency approval for COVID-19 vaccines. Further vaccines are in the pipeline or emergency approval has been requested already. With this acceleration of vaccines being approved in many countries we do observe an increase of COVID- 19 vaccine production as well as required distribution. Countries that are today already involved in the healthcare sector are also highly involved into this increase in demand. This is a combination of either ingredients required to produce the vaccine or the finished vaccine itself.

Based on these recent developments we do not expect major capacity challenges due to COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Q2/2021, but an increasing demand as of the second half of the year. All supply chain partners will be required to closely collaborate to support the distribution and mitigate potential negative impacts or disruptions through the end-to-end transportation.

For successful distribution, storage, repacking, and administration of a COVID-19 vaccine, additional medical supplies are needed – including needles, syringes, alcohol prep pads, surgical masks and face shields, gloves, mixing kits and additional PPE. Being part of our integrated end-to-end healthcare services DB SCHENKERlife+ with licensed and regulated facilities, alongside dedicated and qualified staff, we offer all conceivable warehousing services to handle medical devices and PPE, while supporting respectively institutions and industries globally.

  • Global

(Mar 16, 2021) – DB Schenker is further expanding the global own controlled network to serve our customers. This expansion of the flight network is crucial with continuous limited supply and a strong market demand for air cargo across all key economies in the world. The market demand versus supply imbalance is caused by various uptrading industries (e.g. Automotive, High-Tech, Chemicals, etc.) and expected further growth throughout 2021. The capacity crunch is expected to continue as belly capacity is not improving and a return of the capacity and flight schedule will not return before 2024 / 2025. In addition, the airfreight market remains severely impacted by passenger flight cancellations from all airlines as the pandemic continues across the globe with many countries still impacted by governmental regulations, immigration regulations as well as local lockdown situations due to COVID-19. Passenger traffic has not severely changed throughout the last couple weeks in 2021 and the uncertain situation remains in place as overall demand for long-haul passenger traffic is very low. Only limited increases for regional air traffic are expected ahead of the vacation season, but no large changes in the international long-haul passenger traffic.

Our DB Schenker own controlled network includes flights on following routes:

→ Chicago (RFD) – Munich (MUC) – Tokyo (NRT) – Seoul (ICN) – Munich (MUC) – Chicago (RFD)
→ Chicago (ORD/RFD) – Seoul (ICN) – Shanghai (PVG) – Chicago (RFD)
→ Munich (MUC) – Chennai (MAA) – Munich (MUC) – Chicago (RFD)
→ Frankfurt (FRA) – Dubai (DWC) – Mumbai (BOM) – Frankfurt (FRA) – Atlanta (ATL) – Frankfurt (FRA)
→ Frankfurt (FRA) – Chicago (ORD/RFD) – Frankfurt (FRA)
→ Frankfurt (HHN) – Shanghai (PVG) – Frankfurt (HHN)
→ Luxembourg (LUX) – Indianapolis (IND) – Luxembourg (LUX)
→ Shanghai (PVG) – Luxembourg (LUX) – Shanghai (PVG)
→ Frankfurt (FRA) – Beijing (PEK)
→ Beijing (PEK) – Frankfurt (FRA)
→ Frankfurt (FRA) – Shanghai (PVG)
→ Shanghai (PVG) – Frankfurt (FRA)
→ Shanghai (PVG) – Chicago (ORD)
→ Frankfurt (FRA/HHN) – Zhengzhou (CGO)
→ Zhengzhou (CGO) – Frankfurt (HHN)
→ Zhengzhou (CGO) – Amsterdam (AMS)
→ Hongkong (HKG) – Chicago (ORD)
→ Hongkong (HKG) – Frankfurt (HHN)

Career Capacity Development 1-12/2020

More detailed information on this new flight schedule can be found by clicking here.

  • Europe 

(Mar 16, 2021) - All offices remain in full operation with access to terminal handling and ground transportation. All our European hubs deliver import and receive export freight with no backlogs recorded towards the weekend. Operationally, our linehauls to and from the hubs are running as scheduled. In some areas, our cross-border trucks might experience some minor delays.

→ Please get in touch with your DB Schenker Account Manager for more information.

  • Asia Pacific 

(Mar 16, 2021) - There are no updates on any impacted operations due to COVID-19, with status largely remaining unchanged.

Sporadic infections in some countries within the region underscore the prevalent risk on operations and the vigilance necessary to cope with the ever-present COVID-19 situation.

Control measures remain in effect. Our air freight operations remain available to support customer needs. Delays / backlog may be expected in customs clearance and transportation. Alternatives to move / transport cargo via other gateways / routes are being established and stop-gap measures for labor / driver shortages are being deployed where necessary. Customers may contact the respective DB Schenker representatives for support or solutions if required.

Capacity is expected to remain volatile. We remain vigilant in monitoring the situation to mitigate events with potential impact to operations. Do refer to our Global Flight Network’s additional scheduled charter services for more solutions that can meet your needs.

  • Middle East/Africa 

(Mar 16, 2021) - Overall, the air freight operations in the countries remain uninterrupted and we continue to serve our customers. Only international passenger flights have been suspended in Saudi Arabia and Oman until further notice.



No operational restrictions for air cargo business         

Angola, Bahrain, Egypt, Kenya, Namibia, Mozambique, Oman, Qatar, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, UAE

→ Please get in touch with your DB Schenker Account Manager for more information.

  • Americas 

(Mar 16, 2021) - Continued strain on capacity on most trade lanes as market demand grows but passenger aircraft cargo capacity remains slow returning to compensate. In addition, import terminals are at times running behind in transitioning cargo creating challenges. Especially the ground handling situation at key major airports such as Chicago O’Hare, New York, and Los Angeles in the USA, and Buenos Aires in Argentina. These have led to delays at time of 2 - 4 days in recovering cargo in the import ground handling process. This mainly related to workforce constraints caused by COVID-19. Recent weather-related delays in the USA have now eased are not creating disruptions. DB Schenker closely monitors airport operations to mitigate any impacts to our customers to keep them informed. Regarding market capacity constraints, DB Schenker’s own controlled flight network both transatlantic and transpacific are providing secure capacity for our customers, and our airport-based offices are providing the necessary coordination to provide the fastest release of cargo possible. Our Rockford (RFD) gateway is supporting our flight operations into the mid-west / Chicago area and providing an excellent alternative.

Situation by trade lane is as follows:

USA – Europe

→ Market demand continues moderate to strong. DB Schenker maintaining five 747 freighter flights per week as part of its Global Flight Operations Program to provide additional air cargo capacity to Europe. These flights are operating from Atlanta and Chicago-Rockford to Frankfurt & Munich, as well as from Indianapolis to Luxembourg. They offer DB Schenker customers a stable & secure access to capacity in what continues to be a volatile market situation.

USA – Asia (excluding China)

→ Capacity remains tight but manageable on most trade lanes with the strongest capacity challenges remaining with movements to Australia, Singapore and India. DB Schenkers has in place large, blocked space agreements on multiple flights per week from ORD to Australia. To India as part of its own controlled flight network there are connections via our European operations to BOM and MAA. As well two times a week we have flight operations ORD / RFD to Korea (ICN), that continues to China (PVG).

USA (exports to) – China

→ No capacity constraints for the most part to destinations in China. Exception being PVG, where capacity is tight. DB Schenker introduction of the own controlled flight network from ORD / RFD to PVG, 2x per week, providing a secure option to that market and surrounding cities.

USA – Latin Am / Latin Am to Europe and APAC

→ Intra-Americas: Market demand has grown significantly with access to capacity becoming tight as freighter carriers are reducing scheduled flights, and passenger flights continue to be well below pre-COVID-19 levels. This situation is affecting all countries in central and South America with cargo movements intra-Latin America as well as into the USA and Europe and beyond.

USA / Latin Am to Middle East / Africa

→ South Africa with continued strong market demand and shortage of capacity.

  • Global

(Mar 16, 2021) – The global supply and demand graph for 2021 shows an imbalance in favor of the demand of about 3 - 3.5%. This means that rate levels will not reduce significantly over the next months but remain stable or will move up.

All trades ex APAC are reported to remain strong for Q2 / 2021 and Q3 / 2021; we note an upswing of volumes for the remaining weeks of Q1 / 2021. The equipment situation shows an improvement while rates are mostly stable. GRI announcements by carriers continue for various trades ex origin Asia, however, are not expected to materialize in full. Blank sailings have been launched to take corrective actions on the schedule and ease the ongoing congestions in various ports. A full revamp of schedules in the main trades cannot be expected before Q2 / 2021. Due to increasing volumes for April and missing empties ex Europe (due to blank sailings), it is expected that bottlenecks on the equipment supply will surface again more often.

A different scenario is existing for exports in the other Regions, especially ex Europe: due to an ongoing cargo surge especially to the Americas, the container deficit has reached critical levels, in consequence, vessels are heavily overbooked, carriers announce booking stops / cancellation of spot bookings even for base ports up to April. The “battle” for equipment pushes up the rates, through GRI’s and or introduced or increased Equipment Imbalance Surcharges. We strongly recommend most accurate forecasts for allocation planning.

Career Capacity Development 1-12/2020

With fuel prices on the rise for IFO380 as well as VLSFO, the bunker adjustment factor will come into play from April onwards and causes rates to reflect related increases.

Import free time in all markets is generally cut down to zero since begin of the year. The current circumstances make it very important for our customers to plan volume forecast (we advise 4 to 8 weeks in advance) and be flexible to re-route cargo (for congested destinations). Please expect the situation on all trades subject to continuous changes.

With an uncertain outlook on vessel utilizations and partly huge impacts on port terminals, we need to prepare for changing schedules and transit times (due to slow steaming, port omissions or additional port inclusions as a result of service mergers), sudden / unexpected delays in uplift, increased bottlenecks of equipment availability, inconsistent departures and sudden surcharges possibly resulting in higher costs for the supply chain.

Our experts in Ocean will support and guide for

→ DB SchenkerOcean priority product on all main trades which guarantees loading within a fixed window.
→ DB SchenkerOcean offers for alternate routing possibilities to ensure cargo is lifted from port of loading.
Volume forecast and allocation planning: We have access to volumes on all alliances and support volumes planning through consultation services (allocation match based on customer forecast). Under progress: volume prediction per vertical.
Cargo storage options or cargo in transit options to avoid costly tariffs.

→ Contact your DB Schenker Account Manager regarding Personal Protective Equipment services ex China Europe.
→ Alternate FCL shipping options via breakbulk (on multipurpose vessels) or via LCL.

  • Europe 

(Mar 16, 2021) - All European Ocean Freight Branches are fully functioning operationally.

  • Asia Pacific 

(Mar 16, 2021) - Notwithstanding the market situation as highlighted within Global Ocean Freight section, there are no significant COVID-19 impacted operations as status remains unchanged.

COVID-19 infections remain sporadic in countries across APAC. Our Ocean operations continue to be available to support customer needs. Delays could be expected in customs clearance and transportation. Stop-gap measures will be deployed where necessary.

→ Alternatives to move / transport cargo via other gateways / routes are being established. Customers may contact the respective DB Schenker representatives for support or solutions should it be required.

  • Middle East/Africa 

(Mar 16, 2021) - DB Schenker is fully operational and available to manage the current demand from customers even though an equipment shortage has been seen in the region.

→ Please get in touch with your DB Schenker Account Manager for the latest rates.

  • Americas 

(Mar 16, 2021) - On the exports ex NORAM, it is worthwhile to mention that especially to Asia, the vessel utilization remains strong with no inflation of market rates expected. Void sailings and service suspensions causing severe shortage of space on all North American gateways resulting in high vessel utilization factors across the board. Roll-overs and yield management are being applied by carriers. Extra loaders deployed and services being reinstated on ad-hoc basis. Asia to North America is peaking further and bookings Asia to South America have come up massively during the past two weeks. We continue to monitor the situation.

  • Global

(Mar 16, 2021) - Europe Land is fully operational and available for business, managing existing COVID-19 constraints re-established in many European countries. Asia gives a heterogeneous picture with most countries fully operational and available for business while a few countries (such as India) are facing challenges, however operating. Asia Landbridge (China to South East Asia) as well as Eurasia Landbridge (China – Europe Train) are fully operating, although facing congestions. Land operations in the Americas are also showing constraints, but still working close to normal.

  • Europe 

(Mar 16, 2021) - General restrictions to contain the COVID-19 pandemic are continuing to be in place in several European countries and are in parts directly or indirectly affecting the transportation of goods. Currently, DB Schenker Land Transport monitors & reacts especially to border situations due to regulations imposed by Germany. For any potential cases of disruptive conditions, we follow our pre-defined contingency plans to ensure flows of cargo as much as possible. In addition, we are adapting our transport service offerings daily to the needs of our customers.

Europe Land Transport Heatmap Graphic
© DB Schenker

Are you up-scaling or down-scaling your business activity in response to the changing market environment? DB Schenker Landtransport is your partner with one of the strongest and most resilient networks across 40 countries in Europe. Moreover, with our digital channels like connect4Land we offer a 24/7 entry point to our transport services, easy to use from everywhere, every time – Click. Ship. Done.

  • Asia Pacific 

(Mar 16, 2021) - Our Domestic Land product continues unabated to provide our regular high level of service.

Our Asia Landbridge FTL / LTL road service is running to schedule.

However, border congestion due to high demand can add between 1 and 3 days to Asia Landbridge. A global demand for containers due to Ocean and Air capacity constraints continues to put significant pressure on road assets across the region. DB Schenker staff at Asia Landbridge border offices ensure lead-times are minimized and service levels maintained through “triage” prioritization. Additional labor and associated domicile costs are still required to strategically avoid lengthy quarantine periods for our international drivers. A recent announcement from Savannakhét Provincial Governor mandates testing of Drivers crossing this area (at the Thai-Lao border). Therefore, additional costs are likely to be imposed on shipments traversing Savannakhét in the near future.

Our Domestic and International road services continue to meet the high market demand and are strategically positioned to meet the forecast demand spike associated with ongoing reduced Ocean freight and Airfreight capacity. However, Customers are strongly urged to coordinate any volume spikes with their DB Schenker Account Manager as early as possible.

Congestion levels continue to fluctuate on our Eurasia service for Rail and Road. There are delays > 10 days at CN / KZ and CN / MN; 3 - 7 days at CN / RU border and 0 at BY / PL (Mala) – refer table 1.
Low < 3 days, Medium > 3 days, High > 5 days, Extreme > 7 days
Forecast transit time (CY - CY) westbound is > 25 days and eastbound > 28 days

Table showing the Westbound ETD delay and border congestion delay risks
© DB Schenker

Westbound container stocks remain low and are contributing to delays.

Unfortunately, additional costs relating to disinfecting cargo will be imposed upon the relevant freight payer or consignee for all eastbound shipments.

We therefore recommend checking estimated lead-times with your DB Schenker Account Manager.

  • Middle East/Africa 

(Mar 16, 2021) - Land transportation may be delayed in some countries due to additional checking. In some parts of the GCC, cargo movement has been restricted to food and essential items.

→ Please get in touch with your DB Schenker Account Manager for more details.

  • Americas

(Mar 16, 2021) -

→ USA: Fully operational.
→ Brazil: Market is running in normal conditions. No government lockdowns as of this moment.
→ Mexico: 100% fully operational. Still lockdown in most of the Mexican States.
→ Canada: Fully operational. Quebec is in lockdown with a curfew, and Ontario is on lockdown.

  • Global

(Mar 16, 2021) - Our operations and customer services remain stable. No change in prioritizing protection of our staff and keeping our customers’ businesses running with dedicated guidelines and preventive measures, e.g. social distancing, wearing masks, temperature control, sanitizing stations and respective controlling of health and safety regulations.

While supporting companies and institutions around the globe with handling of PPE and medical devices for successful distribution and administration of a COVID-19 vaccines, we keep up our offering towards our customers:

→ In case you need temporary space, reach out to your DB Schenker Account Manager or local contact person!

  • Europe 

(Mar 16, 2021) - All sites in our operations in Europe currently remain fully operational with precautionary measures in place for the health of workers.

  • Asia Pacific 

(Mar 16, 2021) - There is no significant change in status for APAC countries generally from previous updates. Tight controls remain in APAC countries, with varying measures calibrated to the respective local situations. Delays may be expected. We remain vigilant in monitoring the situation, to mitigate events with potential impact to operations.
→ For India, there have been no significant operational updates. Please refer to our India website for detailed information via download.

While governmental imposed restrictions in APAC countries continue at varying levels, our service levels so far are maintained with our CL operations available to support customer needs.

Delays may be expected due to availability of workforce and enhanced strictly enforced hygiene and monitoring SOPs. Customers may contact the respective DB Schenker representatives for further support if necessary.

  •  Middle East/Africa 

(Mar 16, 2021) - All DB Schenker contract logistics facilities in MEA are operational as per the appropriate health and safety standards and other regulations levied by the local government.

  • Americas 

(Mar 16, 2021) - While observing increasing cases of COVID-19 infections across the region, our warehouses continue to operate, with precautionary measures in place for the health of our people and hence keeping up our customer services.

→ USA: All operations in the USA remain operational with precautionary measures in place for the health of our people and delivery of services to our clients. We are seeing increasing cases of COVID-19 in the USA and remain very robust in our safety measures and protocols.
→ Mexico: COVID-19 numbers are increasing in Mexico. Some states do require partial shutdowns of private life and economy in particular on weekends. We are doing everything possible to minimize the impact to our personnel and facilities.
→ Canada: Expanded lock down measures Province of Ontario and Quebec. All Contract Logistics sites in Canada remain operational with health and safety measures in place for the safety of our associates and continued service.

DB Schenker Organizational Update

DB Schenker is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation. With precautionary measures in place, we are aiming to maintain full operability across all DB Schenker operations. In our offices across all continents, we have taken action to enable as many employees as possible to work from home to support the social distancing guidelines put in place by public authorities.

The next customer advisory will be the March 30 release or earlier should there be significant developments. Visit our website in advance to be among the first informed.

Thank you for your patience and support.
DB Schenker COVID-19 Customer Advisory Team

We have used our utmost care in providing the information above. While the information above has been provided to the best of our knowledge and ability, the DB Schenker Group does not assume any liabilities arising from this information of the use thereof.