As the transportation industry adjusts to the realities of a post-Yellow Corp. world, shippers and carriers are struggling to find their footing. In this weekly update, we’re covering some key stories affecting a fast-changing LTL marketplace and beyond. From abrupt shutdowns to difficulties with volume redistribution, the overland transportation sector has seen seismic shifts in recent months, with more change on the way. Read on to learn more about the headlines and trends making news in the industry that never stops moving.
Following the bankruptcy and closure of Yellow Corp. in July of 2023, shippers began scrambling to find available capacity for volume previously handled by the nation’s largest LTL carrier. According to a recent survey from Morgan Stanley, many of those same shippers remain on the hunt for additional capacity.
The survey revealed striking data: out of 300 shippers and 3PLs who had previously worked with Yellow Corp., the survey found that 35% are still searching for another LTL transportation provider, demonstrating dissatisfaction with their first choice following the closure of Yellow. According to Todd Maiden, writing for FreightWaves, “Pricing, service, and network fit are some of the reasons for another, albeit more modest, shake-up in the LTL landscape.”
Sunset Logistics of Grand Rapids, Michigan, announced its abrupt closure on Oct. 6, leaving some 90 truck drivers and office personnel without final paychecks. Leadership from the carrier attributed the lack of payment to ongoing difficulties with their lender.
While the company has faced many challenges and setbacks plaguing the overland transportation sector in recent years, it also struggled to meet operational standards throughout the past two years. Sunset’s trucks were inspected 89 times in 24 months, with 23 vehicles placed out of service—nearly 26%, a rate higher than the industry’s national average (22.3%), FreightWaves reported, citing FMCSA data.
Following an Oct. 3 cyberattack, announced in a post on the social media platform X, LTL carrier Estes Express appears to be progressing toward full functionality. The cyberattack significantly impacted Estes’ operations, effectively forcing the carrier to shutter operations across its transportation network for a short period.
“Our team has been working 24/7 and will continue to work to bring our remaining systems back up securely and safely. All of this, including our ability to continue serving our customers through this attack, is because of the resiliency, collaboration, and ingenuity of our team,” read a post on Estes Express’ website on Oct. 9. “Despite the impact this has had on Estes’ system, there has not been a moment when we were unable to move freight or support our employees’ livelihood.”
Marc Lautenbach, the President and CEO of parcel transportation provider Pitney-Bowes, has decided to step down from both roles. According to a FreightWaves article, the abrupt change in leadership comes following a dispute with Hestia Capital Management, which owns more than 9% of Pitney-Bowes.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to lead this iconic company for over a decade. As proud as I am of what has been accomplished, I am particularly proud of our team, who has always been guided by our ‘true north’ – our value of doing the right thing the right way,” Lautenbach said in an Oct. 2 press release announcing his immediate resignation. “I am confident that this value will continue to guide our company’s journey going forward.”
In a cost-cutting move following the resignation of CEO Dave Clark in September, Flexport founder and now-CEO Ryan Petersen plans to lay off 30% of the supply chain management company’s workforce, sources told Reuters. The layoff could affect about 1,000 people, noting that the number has not been finalized.
Flexport said the move "doesn’t impact customer service and our ability to help grow our customers’ businesses," without commenting on specific details regarding employee reductions.
FedEx flight utilization increased significantly in August, showing a 17% gain over the previous month. An uptick in flight utilization comes as welcome news for FedEx, who, like many carriers, has struggled with stubbornly low volumes due to continued inflation and limited consumer spending. FreightWaves, reporting on the increase in flight utilization, attributes the gain to diverted volume from UPS shippers, nervous about the impact of a potential strike among the carrier's 350,000 Teamsters.
Despite a significant month-to-month increase in flight utilization, however, August’s rates reveal a 7% decrease in flight utilization YoY, demonstrating that 2023 remains, overall, a troubling year for carrier volumes.
Starting in 2024, DHL Express, the air delivery provider for German parcel transportation company DHL, will implement a 5.9% general rate increase across all shipments originating in the U.S. The hike, which will go into effect on Jan. 1, matches those announced recently by primary DHL competitors FedEx and UPS. According to a Sept. 29 press release from DHL, the increase comes as the company attempts to mitigate the combined pressures of inflation, currency dynamics, and administrative costs.
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