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Coronavirus | COVID - 19

The coronavirus is spreading around the globe, and countries have taken measures how to ... the virus further. Here on this website we would like to keep you informed about the influence of the coronavirus on the supply chain market. We take measures to protect our employees and customers, but we also try to keep our supply chain running as smoothly as possible. 

Air & Ocean Freight

We have seen further reactive measures taken by both the New Zealand Government, and others around the world, particularly in the restriction of public movement across borders, and in some cases, within cities or regions.

While some of these restrictions are far reaching, to date the transportation of goods both domestically and internationally is being maintained at, or very near to, normal levels of service.

Feedback from Mainfreight teams on the ground in those regions where "lockdown" type measures have been introduced in Europe, Asia and the United States, has been that we are able to continue operating much as we normally would. Factories, warehouses, ports and transport providers are largely continuing to produce and distribute goods, albeit with some health–related regulations being applied.

Air freight is the exception, and our recommendation that our customers talk with us and work through the options available. Feedback from our air freight branches around the world is consistent with what we see here in New Zealand.

Please find below updates received in the last 24 hours from our Mainfreight teams around the world:


North America

As advised on Friday, last week the US Government announced restrictions on travel between Europe and the United States, including the United Kingdom and Ireland. Canada has introduced similar measures.

While the North American travel bans do not include the movement of cargo, we expect that when combined with the recently announced European Union hard border measures, further reductions in air freight capacity will emerge. Ocean freight cargo is expected to continue moving freely with no restrictions.

Although we are heading into a period of uncertainty, the update above demonstrates that the world's freight trade–lanes remain open. Our experience in China has given us knowledge of how to operate in this new environment, which is now evident amongst our European teams.

All 275 of Mainfreight's branches world-wide are open, and our team is finding air and sea freight solutions to support the flow of supplies on behalf of our customers.


As previously advised, China continues to gather momentum in a return to normal levels of operation. Our 14 offices across China, and the shipping lines we work with, are 100% operational, with our teams now all back on site.

Air freight between China and the rest of the world remains challenging, although new cargo-only services are emerging to meet air freight demand. Our teams in the gateway mainland branches are finding space, however the rate levels being offered are yet to settle with any consistency.

The Mainfreight Kuala Lumpur team advises that the Malaysian Government has imposed a 14–day Movement Control Order, beginning today, nationwide, through until March 31. The measures include shutdown of business premises, except for supermarkets, public markets, and convenience stores. Transport is identified as an essential service and will remain operational at this stage.


Our advice however remains consistent with last week, in that it is vital that our customers, their suppliers, and export customers offshore, work closely with their local Mainfreight teams to understand the options available.

Our customers with sea freight based supply chains should see a stable situation in the short to medium term, with more positive development expected out of Asia in particular this week.

Our air freight customers need to be working with us as soon as possible to prepare for firstly, an expected rush on air freight space in the 7-14 day period before airline schedules and capacity reduce to less than 20% of pre pandemic levels, as is being indicated at the time of writing.

Secondly, it would be prudent for air freight orientated customers to be planning for a, partial or potentially full, migration to either a sea freight supply model, or sea/air services for long haul customers.

Our team are communicating with all airlines servicing Australia and New Zealand and will publish more definitive schedule feedback as soon as we are able to do so.


The European Union today announced hard borders being imposed around and between countries in the EU. While in theory this change does not impact the movement of cargo, there are reports of congestion at border crossings where truck drivers are being vetted for COVID–19.

Our Mainfreight teams in the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Poland report the situation there remains largely unchanged from previous updates. They are adjusting to business closures, mostly in the hospitality sector, and seeing more of our customers transition to working remotely. At this stage industry is still productive and cargo movements unencumbered.

In Italy, Spain and France, our Milan, Barcelona and Paris teams report the Mainfreight offices are open, with alternating remote and on–site shifts as recommended by the local authorities. As we have included in previous updates, health regulations are in place for Italian and Spanish organisations to open and operate, with some companies taking longer than others to meet these requirements. Those that have yet to open under the new health standards, are expected to do so by the end of this week. Our teams report they are still taking bookings and moving cargo. Ports and airports remain operational.

The Mainfreight teams in the United Kingdom are still operational and working as they would normally on site. We hear from our team that the effects of Covid–19 are beginning to be felt more in the last 48 hours, with additional regulation expected, including recommended isolation in the home. We do not expect this to impact on cargo movement at this stage.

New Zealand

Following increased travel restrictions announced by the New Zealand Government over this past weekend, and further to our Coronavirus Covid-19 market update on Monday, we want to briefly share an overview of the air freight market situation.

To summarise the air freight environment in New Zealand, as we see it today:

  • Current airline schedules will remain relatively unchanged between now and the end of this month.
  • From March 20th, New Zealand air freight capacity will start to reduce, we estimate by between 10 -15% from what it is today
  • From March 30th, existing passenger airline schedules will further reduce by an estimated 50 - 70%, with a similar reduction in air freight capacity.
  • Your local Mainfreight team will continue to be able to access capacity and provide air freight routing options, even with the current and proposed reductions in air services.

However it is important to note that as capacity continues to reduce over the next 14 days at a disproportionate level to demand, air freight transit times and rates will increase.

Advice for our New Zealand-based customers this week

We are advising that forward planning is required now to allow sufficient inventory to mitigate the impact of longer airfreight transit times.

We strongly encourage both import and export customers to consider air freighting contingency stock where possible, preferably before the end of this month, to take advantage of passenger services while they still exist on current schedules.

Mainfreight response to this evolving air capacity situation

We have learned from our previous experience with the COVID-19 impact in China, that cargo-only air freight schedules will most likely increase as passenger services start to decrease. This will help mitigate some of the capacity shortage in New Zealand, however the exact amount of additional capacity is still to be confirmed.

We are continuing to monitor the situation and are in regular contact with all of the major airlines servicing NZ, reviewing schedule changes and available capacity.

Mainfreight service options available to assist our customers

In addition to keeping our customers updated on airfreight schedules, we can also offer the following services to help keep supply chains moving:

  • Access to space on new freighter routes that are beginning to emerge.
  • Access to provisional costing information for Dedicated Air Charter Services on critical routes where required.
  • Increased Sea to Air / Air to Sea Service Options over Mainfreight's Hong Kong Airfreight hub. These services use air freight to/from Hong Kong with Express LCL Ocean Feeder services to/from NZ.
  • Access to transhipment air freight services to replace previous direct air freight service options using Mainfreight hubs in Sydney, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei.
  • Access to direct LCL and FCL service and transit information as an alternative to air freight services

To discuss your specific situation, please get in touch as soon as possible with your local Mainfreight Air & Ocean team. While this is a rapidly-evolving environment we are committed to finding solutions.


Transport Services



We as Mainfreight still drive to and from all countries.

In several countries we do see extra border controls, health checks of drivers or cargo transport that can only cross the border in convoy. This can cause delays and these aspects can, to our regret, have an impact on our transit times and deliveries.

We would like to reiterate our call to continue to treat our drivers with respect. We have instructed our drivers and are extra alert to all hygiene measures. In order to prevent further spread of the virus through our drivers, we have taken the following measures:

  • Our drivers stay at home in case of complaints such as nose cold or coughing, sore throat or fever.
  • Our drivers don't shake hands anymore.
  • Our drivers avoid physical contact and try as much as possible to keep a distance of 1.5 meters.
  • For the time being, our drivers sign the CMR themselves. The driver does this in the presence of and in consultation with the recipient.
  • Our drivers will clean hands after each activity and regularly during the daily delivery/pickup routines.

In addition, some of Mainfreight's employees work from home, so please contact us by email as much as possible.
In all its decisions, Mainfreight follows and acts in accordance with the regulations of the National Institute of Public Health.

Herewith we make another urgent request to check when booking your shipments whether work is being carried out at the address and if loading and unloading is possible.

If the pick-up or delivery address is closed, we kindly ask you not to book your shipment until these addresses are open again. If we are unable to deliver a shipment due to a (provisionally) closed unloading address, we are obliged to return this shipment to you. We will have to charge you for any extra costs.

In addition, we ask you to pay extra attention to providing correct contact information when booking the shipment so that we have the correct and complete information at our disposal.

It is in everyone's interest that our networks remain available for the transport of various goods that are counted on. We count on your cooperation and understanding.


Mainfreight Protocol

Within Mainfreight we have started below protocol, which helps to minimize the potential spreading of the Coronavirus. We will continue to implement any new protocols as they are advised by the relevant authorities.

Protocol within Mainfreight

• Cover your nose and mouth with a handkerchief or bent elbow if you cough or sneeze.
• Wash your hands regularly for at least 30 seconds with soap and water or with a disinfecting alcohol gel. Dry your hands with paper towels.
• Avoid contact and keep a distance of at least 1 meter from someone who coughs or sneezes.
• Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth.
• Do not share personal items such as pens, food, drinks, cups.
• Stay at home (or work from home if possible) if you feel sick.
• Contact your doctor if you have a fever, cough and are short of breath.
• Inform your supervisor if you have been in risk areas. This includes China South Korea, Northern Italy, Japan, Iran, Singapore, Hong Kong, United States and Thailand etc.

Loading and unloading at suppliers / customers

• Drivers must disinfect their hands and avoid direct contact.
• Keep 1 meter away.
• Drivers are not allowed in the warehouse.
• Use your own pen when processing shipment documents.
• Avoid direct contact and do not shake hands.
• Disinfecting gel.

Loading and unloading cross dock

• Drivers must disinfect their hands and avoid direct contact.
• Keep 1 meter away.
• External Drivers are not allowed on the cross dock.
• Use your own pen when processing shipment documents.
• Avoid direct contact and do not shake hands.
• Disinfecting gel. Use this also for access control.


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