Sea-Air and Sea-Truck: Shipco’s Expedited Hybrid Transport Solutions

Providing global coverage through comprehensive service offerings – be it ocean freight or air freight or trucking, or a combination of the three, is what differentiates Shipco from other industry players. Kim Ekstroem, Global COO, AirCargo and Anders Christensen, Director, Business Development – Europe, speak about Shipco’s hybrid transport solutions - Sea-Air and Sea-Truck and the company’s ability to provide versatile solutions tailored to meet any need of its customers.

Sea-Air and Sea-Truck services

Shipco’s Sea-Air and Sea-Truck hybrid solutions are expedited services combining ocean and air transport or trucking within a single journey. These multimodal solutions offer customers the opportunity to match speed to market with a cost-effective service.

Mr. Kim Ekstroem

COO, Global AirCargo

Q. When would you use a Sea-Air service?

For customers who want to transport goods quickly but keep costs down, Sea-Air is a fast and economical alternative, combining the advantages of sea and air freight. This integrated option can offer flexibility in timing and price. It is half the cost of airfreight, and half the transit than LCL, making it a particularly valuable solution during peak season.

Q. What are the benefits of using Shipco’s Sea-Air solutions?

Shipco is unique because we are the only neutral service provider able to handle both sea and air freight. Anyone else would have to piece it together from different sources because of the modal change. Our customers would not have to do this with Shipco. Shipments are in our custody and care from A to Z. We take responsibility for the shipment from the second it is received at the warehouse until it arrives at the airport.

The goods transported are typically relatively low-value freight such as clothes and garments that have to arrive at stores within a specific timeframe. If the cargo were moved as a pure air shipment, cost-wise, it would be relatively high per piece. So, this service not only accommodates a tight delivery deadline, it is also a way to mitigate the cost.

Q. Which are the routes serviced through Sea-Air?

Shipco’s hybrid ocean and air transport solution covers three main routes. We offer a Sea-Air service transporting freight via ocean to Dubai where it is then flown to airports all over Europe, Africa and America. Forwarder customers who might not have big enough shipments to fill an ocean container can take advantage of Shipco’s direct LCL services from over 15 ports in Asia into Dubai. And because this is 100% Shipco’s product, we maintain full control over the ocean and air segments including cargo load planning.

In such instances, the cargo will load at the back of the container, close to the door and as soon as it arrives in Dubai, the container is devanned in our warehouse. The freight is then trucked to the airport and moves out immediately. Dubai is a significant sea-air center because cargo can be moved from vessel to airport and clear customs in only four hours.

Similarly, we offer a Sea-Air service moving cargo from Asia to South and Central America via Los Angeles and Miami. A forwarder customer can enjoy our many direct services with multiple weekly ocean departures out of Asia into the West Coast of United States. More recently, congestion and delays at ocean ports have impacted the dependability of this service however, we continue to monitor developments closely so customers can decide on the solution that best meets their transportation needs, given the latest information.

We also have opportunities for an Air-Sea solution which connects the U.S. to Hong Kong by air, and then moves via LCL ocean freight to ports in Australia.

Mr. Anders Christensen

Director, Business Development - Europe

Q. Why was a Sea-Truck service created?

The trans-Russian rail services came to a rough ending in February 2022 when the Russia-Ukraine war started, impacting around 1.5 million containers of Asia-Europe rail cargo. The entire point of using rail is for its speed and reliability but this is no longer a viable solution.

We focused on finding an alternate way to keep our customers’ freight moving, especially from China to Europe without adding unnecessary touchpoints and Sea-Truck was created to meet that need. By combining our ocean freight service with trucking, we have been able to offer our customers a reliable and expedited solution from China into Northern Europe. The Sea-Truck hybrid service has been well received by our freight forwarding customers.

Q. What are the benefits of using Shipco’s Sea-Truck solution?

Our Sea-Truck service is a very versatile solution as customers choose the type of service for their shipment after it arrives in Koper. As example, they can decide to move the shipment in their own dedicated truck from Koper for a faster transit at a higher price point or go with a less-than-truckload (LTL) solution. Working closely with customers, Shipco’s dedicated experts will help build tailor-made solutions for each Sea-Truck shipment.

The Sea-Truck solution is suitable for fairly large volumes and time-sensitive cargo, shaving off about 20 days on the transit from Asia to Europe which currently averages about 50 days. It has a slightly longer transit than Sea-Air but to many places in Europe, it is almost half the transit of a sea freight move.

Q. Which are the routes serviced through Sea-Truck?

The Sea-Truck service is operated from two main points, Shanghai and Shenzhen, China. Shenzhen, in particular, has an extensive transport network connecting it to major Chinese cities within the country. Not only is it easily accessible by truck, it is also the most reliable point with the fastest transit time.

Our Sea-Truck service begins as a direct sailing from Shenzhen so there is no transshipping and no rehandling. It reaches Koper, Slovenia in only 21 days and upon arrival, the cargo is reloaded onto special direct trucks into Scandinavia and Northern Europe. Trucking from CFS to door takes seven to nine days and the countries serviced include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Q. Sea freight forms one part of Shipco’s Sea-Air and Sea-Truck solution. Does the increase in blank sailings by ocean carriers impact reliability of the hybrid services?

Shippers looking to bypass initial West Coast congestion and inland capacity constraints, as well as avoid potential disruptions from a West Coast port strike have shifted vessel backlogs to East and Gulf coast ports. Meanwhile, a report by the American Shipper says the recent fall in port queues could represent “the final unwinding of COVID-era congestion as inflation takes hold", or it could simply indicate “the relative calm before the peak-season, post-Shanghai-lockdown storm”.

Q. When do customers turn to hybrid solutions?

Mr. Anders Christensen
Director, Business Development - Europe

Up until June, our Sea-Truck service was a go-to solution as it was difficult to get space on ships and rates were extremely high. However, we are in a drastically different market situation now.

Ocean carriers are removing capacity from the market to prop up freight prices by blanking sailings. One possible scenario is that it can put pressure on ocean freight rates and in which case, we anticipate some of our hybrid alternatives being offered will again increase in popularity.

Although demand has been tapering, the year-end holiday season is approaching which could change market conditions again. Our Sea-Truck service continues to be a dependable solution for customers looking for expedited solutions from Asia into North Europe.

Mr. Kim Ekstroem
COO, Global AirCargo

Sea-Air functions as a buffer for when an all air move becomes too costly. Ocean and air freight costs are dropping which are not particularly conducive for hybrid moves. As soon as rates climb for air freight, demand will return.

Sea-Air is also ‘seasonal’ and by this, I don’t mean a specific time of year. Rather, that something has to happen to make Sea-Air attractive, such as an escalation of air freight rates for commodities that do not need to get to destination within three to five days but cannot wait forty days. It’s ‘seasonal’ in the sense that you can use it to circumvent local issues such as the current strike action at the port of Felixstowe which is planned to go on until October 5. Using our Sea-Air solution, customers can take advantage of the low sea freight rate up to Dubai and from there, the shipment would be sent by air into London’s Heathrow airport, avoiding delays caused by this conflict.

Right now, our hybrid services might not present as the best solution for our forwarder customers but in a month’s time, whatever peak we might see, Shipco’s hybrid solutions may be the saving grace because the holidays will be here.

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