Your midweek delivery of news from the world of heavy lift and project forwarding.

Torquing point by Evie Aufheben

After more than nine months of protracted negotiations, the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) has reached a tentative accord with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) on chassis maintenance and repair - a critical step towards finalising a new waterfront contact at US West Coast ports.

The PMA, representing major shipping lines, and the ILWU, acting in the interest of its 20,000 dockworker members, have been at loggerheads over the chassis maintenance issue. Answering this question has been considered imperative in order to alleviate the huge cargo bottlenecks currently hampering West Coast gateways.

Federal mediators helped to broker a deal that placed the maintenance and repair of chassis and flatbeds with the ILWU. The dockworker's union had been concerned over losing jobs and members as the ports continue to automate processes, and securing the maintenance contact would enable the ILWU to bolster its membership.

Working chassis, used to move containers to and from port, have been in short supply at Pacific gateways and this was cited by the ILWU as a key factor causing the cargo logjams.

The ILWU argued that the PMA misjudged the impact it would have on cargo flows when they stopped servicing chassis, allowing third parties to gain control over an asset that is essential to speeding containers out of the ports. 

In opposition to this, the PMA believed the ILWU orchestrated a slowdown and did not dispatch their most qualified workers, in a bid to gain leverage at the bargaining table.

However, this tentative agreement signals the first piece of progress on the waterfront contract since July 2014. While the members still need to ratify the deal as part of the final contract package, this agreement could prove to be a significant step towards ending the horrendous delays as US West Coast ports.

In business

Zeeland returns to growth
Zeeland Seaports reported that cargo throughput at its Dutch gateways increased by 6.3 percent year-on-year to more than 35 million tonnes during 2014.

Record year at Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville
The Port of Indiana-Jeffersonville handled over 2.4 million tonnes of cargo in 2014, up 48 percent over 2013.

Mixed success for Port of Antwerp
The port of Antwerp handled 199,012,082 tonnes of freight in 2014, a rise of 4.3 percent year-on-year over 2013. However, 9,884,522 tonnes of conventional breakbulk was handled at the gateway during 2014, down 2 percent on the 2013 total.

Project cargoes soar at Hamilton
The Port of Hamilton handled 58,647 cu m (or 14,000 tonnes) of project cargo shipments during 2014 - up 53 percent year-on-year over 2013.

SHL scores hat trick with Dong Energy
Seaway Heavy Lifting (SHL) secured a deal for the transportation and installation of substations at three of Dong Energy's offshore wind farms in the UK.

Latin America tops TIACA Agenda
The International Air Cargo Association (TIACA) will focus on challenges and opportunities in Latin America, and host interactive workshops on global airfreight issues at its Executive and Annual General Meeting Summit conference in Miami, USA on May 19-21, 2015.   

Capacity developments

C. Steinweg Oman adds Gottwald capacity
C. Steinweg Oman, operator of the multipurpose cargo terminal at SOHAR Port and Freezone, has taken delivery of a 100-tonne lifting capacity Gottwald HMK 6407 crane.

ABC adds Helsinki
AirBridgeCargo Airlines (ABC) has commenced a twice-weekly B747 freighter service connecting Moscow Sheremetyevo airport and Helsinki. The Russian freighter airline also carried a record 401,000 tonnes of cargo during 2014 - a 17.6 percent year-on-year improvement over 2013.
New UK abnormal load reporting system takes effect
In the UK, the latest version of ESDAL (Electronic Service Delivery for Abnormal Loads) has gone live after lengthy delays.  

Manaus takes Cargolux to 100
Cargolux's introduction of a regular air freight service to Manaus has resulted in the Brazilian airport becoming the airline's 100th commercial 747-8F destination.       

On the move

Hansa appoints Harmstorf
Hansa Heavy Lift has strengthened its managerial team with the addition of Maximilian Harmstorf as head of its Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region.

Notable shipment

Fleet Line Shipping safely loaded a 160-tonne crew boat at Mussafah port, Abu Dhabi, destined for Lagos in Nigeria.