A debate has started as to whether dredging at ports on the United States East Coast (USEC) may turn out to be the key factor driving long-term US container port call strategies on both Suez and Panama all-water services.

Expansion of the Panama Canal will ultimately see 8,000 teu - similar to the size of ships presently deployed on All-Water Suez (AWS) services - sailing the All-Water Panama (AWP) route though it is likely to see only a modest increase in market share relative to the AWS and the US West Coast (USWC) landbridge. The arguments are whether carriers' North American service patterns, where they are based on direct port calls, will be replaced, at least in part, by a hub and spoke system.

AWS rotations on the USEC are still based on direct calls, including the smaller ports and those with relatively shallow channels.  It is reasonable to expect that the deployment of similar ships on the AWP will have a comparable impact on service patterns - meaning no impact, at least initially.

It is arrival of the New-Panamax (NPX) ships, which are forecast to initially have capacity of 13,500 teu and eventually 15,000 teu, around 2018 that should be the game changer; never mind the development of the 28,000 teu Malacca-Max (MLX).  The discussion will continue during the Big Industry Debate at TOC Container Supply Chain Americas 2013, on the afternoon of Tuesday 1 October.

As existing African ports become more and more congested, increased capacity is an urgent need. That has prompted global engineering, procurement and construction firm Bechtel to create what it describes as a "revolutionary design" to shipping in Africa: an offshore smart terminal and docking system that can accommodate vessels and barges. Bechtel says the hub has the potential to open new market opportunities in Africa by significantly increasing capacity and substantially reducing port construction and operation costs.

Unveiled at the African Ports Evolution 2013 Forum in Cape Town, the jury is still out on the proposal. Bechtel is also leading a three-year research project to improve the safety of mooring large ships on the coast of West Africa. Both projects are key to upgrading and expanding African port capacity, says Bechtel.

This week's Friday Flyer is sponsored by Broekman Project Services, located in the Port of Rotterdam, which offers a total solution for handling and assembly of project cargoes - www.broekman-group.com/bps

In the corporate world
Results from the Heavy Lift and Haulage division of Tiong Woon rose 35 percent to USD120.28 million, contributing 77 percent of revenue and 94 percent of profit before tax to the corporation.

South African forwarder Imperial Logistics has issued its financial results year ending June 30, 2013 (FY2013), showing revenues of USD3.26 billion, up 21 percent year-on-year over FY2012.

US lawmakers toured a Volga-Dnepr AN-124-100 freighter aircraft on a visit to DynCorp International's new hangar facility at Huntsville International airport, USA.

Capacity developments
The Port of Kiel, Germany, has completely refurbished its ro-ro facility at Berth 1, allowing vessels to be loaded both via the ramp as well as by using two port cranes.

Nooteboom Trailers will introduce its latest access platform semi low-loader at Matexpo 2013 conference and exhibition, September 4-8, 2013 in Kortrijk, Belgium.

DFDS has named the first of two newbuild ro-ro vessels at the Volkswerft Straisund shipyard in Germany.

Chapman Freeborn Airchartering has formed a partnership with Air Libya to place and manage a 5.5 tonne payload capacity Antonov AN-26 freighter aircraft in the country on ad hoc charters.

Network news
New and existing members have signed up new locations and offices with the Global Project Logistics Network (GPLN): Eastern Shipping in Constanta, Romania and Switzerland's Gutmann Heavy Logistics have joined while existing member Global Shipping Services has added its Houston office to the network.

Project Cargo & Yacht Transport of Istanbul has become the latest member to join the Project Partners network.

Alpha Projects & Logistics has become the newest member of the XL Projects (XLP) network, registering its offices in Copenhagen, Denmark; Rotterdam, the Netherlands; and Genoa, Italy.

The Pacific Power Logistics (PPL) Network will host its AGM 2014 during May 25-28 in the Peninsula Manila hotel, Makati, the Philippines.

People and places
Damco has named 30-year industry veteran Samuel Israel as its new regional ceo for Latin America.

Wolfgang Graf is taking over the management of Gebrüder Weiss' air and sea freight department at Vienna airport having been appointed branch manager.

Declan Guerin, formerly v-p mergers and acquisitions for MacGregor, is now the material handling equipment manufacturer's chief financial officer.

WWL ALS, a division of Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, has opened its first representative office in South Africa.

All about Evie
Evie does like a man in a flying jacket so she is backing an appeal for a million new pilots and technicians to support new aircraft deliveries over the next twenty years. Donning her aviator glasses and throwing on the silk scarf, she notes that around half a million left-hand seats will need posteriors while a larger number of grease monkeys will be needed to wipe an oily rag over the aircraft.

She was moved to consider this issue after reading Boeing forecasts that steadily increasing aircraft deliveries will create a global requirement for about 25,000 new pilots annually for the next 20 years.  

Global demand for technicians also remains significant, at approximately 28,000 new technicians required annually. However, the introduction of more efficient and smarter airplanes will require fewer mechanics over time, as aging aircraft - which typically require more maintenance - are retired from service.