Potential Disruption at French Ports

We have experienced many disruptions by French fisherman at French ports over the years causing havoc to the European road freight industry.

Over the last few days, the news headlines have been focusing on the UK / French political relationship and the threat of possible disruption this may cause.

If we cannot agree fishing rights for French fisherman in our waters, the threat of an instant blockade of some vital French ports is very real. This will have a detrimental effect on transit times for all French shipments and any shipments that need to cross French territory. If things get nasty, a slow down by French customs officials on UK exports and imports has been rumoured also.

It might be a good idea, if you can, to stockpile some shipments in the UK and EU if these blockades happen over the next few months.

It is possible that your shipments to or from France may be affected by French action at short notice. Any action would also have an affect on goods transiting France to or from Europe.

We are monitoring the situation closely and will issue updates as and when we have positive information of any action being taken. We do ask however, that you bear in mind the possible French action locking ports to UK ships, possible disruption via the channel tunnel and increasing checks by French Customs on shipments travelling in-between the UK and France for exports and imports.

Coronavirus COVID-19 Service Update


European Freight Movements

An escalation of the spread of Coronavirus in mainland Europe is now starting to impact European freight movements. As of today, and as far as we know, freight vehicles are still being allowed to cross European borders. There are however a number of restrictions in place at 100’s of EU border crossings. Drivers are experiencing long delays crossing multiple border crossings en-route to their delivery points as EU member states ramp up health screening and border checks to forbid non-nationals entering their country. It may well be that as Europe approaches the peak of the virus, many member states will only allow ‘essential’ freight movements and restrict or forbid industrial freight movements.

The situation in each of the 27 EU countries is changing constantly

Trans.info is a website providing up-to-date information on restrictions for HGV drivers. Here’s a link to an interactive map of the current restrictions in place and where border crossings have been shut.

The situation in the UK and Europe is very fluid. We are speaking to our partners on a daily basis to get the current situation in each European country.

Sea and Air Freight Movements
Air freight rates and capacity have been hit hard. As the majority of air freight travels in the hold of passenger aircraft, capacity is at an all time low and prices at an all time high. No rate validity is now being offered by airlines. Sea freight containers and services have been hit too as there are big imbalances in the position of containers worldwide. Demand for sea freight will inevitably increase as the ban on non-essential air travel continues. Our Sea / Air freight and Time-Critical departments will be happy to see what solutions they can put in place for you. ( sea@, air@ or critical@espaceglobalfreight.com)

What can you do to help?

Please check with your customer or supplier in Europe that they are open to allow us to deliver to or collect from them. Providing us with their contact details (name of contact, telephone number and email address) will help our partners to manage the freight movement and keep them informed of any delays. Extra charges may be incurred by us if drivers are unable to deliver or collect as planned due to factory closures.

What is Espace’s business continuity plan?

We are currently putting IT measures in place to allow all our staff to work from home if required. Our service to you should not be affected. We have currently not made the decision to close our offices and work remotely. We are putting everything in place to make sure we can do this when we choose to or when we are forced to. As soon as our remote working plan is finalised, and we have a date for its implementation we will let you know by email and phone.

What are the other possible effects of Coronavirus on European road freight?

It’s inevitable that at some stage for European part and full loads there will be issues of trailer availability to consider. Many countries have now imposed a 14-day self-isolation period on drivers that have made deliveries to Italy. As a result, we foresee some major availability issues for Italian full load movements.

As drivers contract the virus or have to self-isolate as a result of living with a partner with its symptoms, the availability of international UK and EU HGV drivers will be seriously affected. Demand for freight movements may reduce in Europe as companies temporarily close for extended periods of time. However, if the demand for European full load movements remains constant or increases with a diminishing supply of drivers, the basic law of economics will kick in and we will see an increase in freight rates.

Also, even though the U.K has fewer reported cases and deaths from the virus, there has been a marked weakening of Sterling against the Euro. It is currently at £1=1.098 Euros, the lowest it has been in the last 6 months. As most European haulage is carried out by European hauliers and paid in Euros, this devaluation of the Pound is having a considerable impact on our supplier costs.

In summary

We will continue to keep you informed of restrictions on European freight movements as they happen. Please ensure you check that your customer or supplier is open for business and provide their contact details. When we provide you with a quotation, we will advise you of any freight movement restrictions in the EU country in question.

Please direct any further questions to your Freight Account Manager and we will endeavour to answer them as quickly and accurately as we can.