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Coronavirus COVID–19 Update

Posted on 26 March 2020

27th March 2020 | Global Update

As we move into the first weekend in New Zealand under Alert Level 4 of the Government's COVID–19 measures, we continue to work with our customers globally to confirm their ability to send or receive cargo in the coming weeks.

At this stage, all Mainfreight branches globally continue to be open and operational as Government–approved essential international air & sea freight, transport and warehousing services.

At the time of writing, borders internationally remain open for trade. As impacted communities adjust to further social restrictions, our Mainfreight teams have been able to operate effectively in this dynamic environment and have provided insight through our presence in markets across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Australasia.

New Zealand

The pressure on Air freight capacity has intensified along with demand for both import and export space towards the end of this week. Flight schedules have again been reduced on many lanes globally, including New Zealand with Cathay Pacific suspending New Zealand flights with immediate effect.

As highlighted in our previous update, there are a number of initiatives in development which will provide both short and medium-term support for air freight users into and out of New Zealand.

Mainfreight continues to be engaged with a number of parties, as well as our global partner air lines. We are hopeful of being in a position to provide more detail in the coming days.

If you have an immediate air freight requirement, there are still limited services operating, so please get in touch with your local Mainfreight Air & Ocean team.

In regards to Sea freight, we have seen several developments towards the end of this week, with blank sailings starting to emerge as demand becomes uncertain.

We continue to work through shipments in transit that have been impacted, with those customers involved. Import deliveries and export collections continue to be completed where the collection or receiving address is accessible.

Mainfreight can offer container unpack services through our CFS operations in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch, and in most of our other 11 locations around New Zealand. We also have storage available in a number of locations.

As communicated earlier this week, we have confirmation that Centreport in Wellington and the Port of Tauranga/Metroport, have indicated concessions on demurrage charges for containers unable to be uplifted within free time.

The Ports of Auckland have encouraged the timely clearance of all containers off port in order to avoid congestion, whilst announcing this afternoon a reduced daily demurrage fee of $70.00 per TEU, for the coming month.

The other New Zealand Ports have not offered any change to previous demurrage charging structures, or are yet to confirm.

Among the shipping lines servicing New Zealand, Maersk and PIL have confirmed extended detention–free on all containers impacted by the COVID–19 measures in April.

For Mainfreight Group LCL customers, we will minimise the costs associated with storage post arrival, through our network of warehouses in Auckland and Christchurch. Please talk to us about your specific requirements.


Our teams in Mainfreight Transport, Air & Ocean, and our Warehousing branches across Australia remain operational. Recently announced state restrictions have resulted in a gradual closure of retail outlets and some businesses.

Mainfreight's interstate and local vehicles continue to make pick–ups and deliveries, with our team following all the recommended guidelines to ensure they, and our customers, remain protected, healthy and safe.


Our Mainfreight offices across China report that business has continued to return to normal.

The challenges around air freight in and out of China however continue, as the government has tightened border restrictions further in the last 24 hours to protect against imported COVID–19 infections.

Inbound airline schedules have again become changeable as airlines react to the new restrictions.
Cargo–only services are not impacted. Capacity is increasing, however rate levels to secure space remain volatile.

The Mainfreight Asia teams in Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, and South Korea all advise that they remain operational and open as normal. Mainfreight Malaysia has advised that their government has introduced similar social and business operating restrictions as those currently in place in New Zealand.

In India, both the national border, and those between states, is closed. Trade has effectively halted as ports, airports, Government border agencies, and transport providers are included in the lockdown.


The Mainfreight Russia team has advised the country will commence lock down, with similar restrictions to those we see in other parts of Europe. We are expecting more detail on this over the weekend.

At this stage our understanding is that ports and airports will remain operational and our teams will also be available and able to work remotely.

Our Mainfreight teams throughout the rest of Europe continue to manage freight movements consistent with local Government guidance. The majority of businesses are open and operational, although the number of those working remotely is increasing.

Our European road transport teams continue to operate with only minor delays at road borders.

North America

Whilst "shelter in place" orders are coming into effect across more states in the USA, they have not impacted upon the movement of freight in any state as yet. Across Northern and Southern America, Mainfreight branches and depots are open and continue to service our customers, although we are seeing more businesses entering into lockdown in some states, making delivery planning important.

At this point, as an essential services provider, we have seen no disruption in the delivery to our Transport, Warehousing or Air & Ocean forwarding operations.

The emergence of passenger airlines repurposing aircraft to move cargo only is prevalent in the USA. While air cargo rates remain volatile, the Mainfreight team's daily allocation through blocked space agreements do provide some protection.

For ocean freight, our USA teams report business as usual with volumes starting to pick up with the Chinese factories coming back online.

In Canada, the Mainfreight team in Toronto tell us the situation remains the same as previously updated, with the border closed to all but essential industry. Cargo remains free to move north and south across the border.

In Mexico, our two branches continue to see borders with the USA remain open, although much like Europe there are some delays in crossing with health checks and delays in customs clearance.

Mainfreight Santiago in Chile reports that the local stay–at–home orders are being enforced. Our offices are considered essential providers and remain open.

The escalation of social measures has continued in most parts of the world as governments introduce increased border and social regulation to protect their populations.

We also see an appreciation from central Governments around the world for the place that the secure movement of cargo has in supporting communities and business, particularly in New Zealand, and remain hopeful that the unencumbered flow of cargo will continue to be supported.

Air freight in the short term remains constrained. Our Mainfreight teams on the ground globally are delivering air cargo solutions as the situation provides opportunity to do so. We expect capacity to stabilise as freighter services come on stream and demand drops with local retail restrictions.

Please keep working with your local Mainfreight team to manage freight already in motion. As outlined earlier we have available infrastructure and team to assist through this period.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact your local Mainfreight Air & Ocean team.

26th March 2020

The Government has provided further clarity pertaining to the movement of freight whilst we are at CoVID-19 alert level four.

It is our understanding home-based consumers fundamentally will only be able to shop online for essential goods such as food, beverages, toiletries, and health and sanitation products, referred to as “necessities of life” during the lock down period.

Government will further deter any companies or parties who attempt to enact or offer home services outside the “necessity of life” principles.

As a result, and with immediate effect, Mainfreight will only service residential homes with shipments of “necessity of life” products classified by Government agencies.

We will continue to respect safe havens of isolation (bubbles), mitigating risk in the preservation of life, as outlined in recent Government communications. Equally we are unable to uplift any goods from a business operating from a residential address.

If further definition of “necessities of life” products are required we recommend our customers reach out to appropriate Government agencies or websites for validation.

Due to CoVID-19 alert level four and our reduced freight volumes, Mainfreight’s services to certain destinations, primarily regional New Zealand and inter-island, will see a measurable extension in transit times as our team navigate closures and fallen demand whilst maintaining safety protocols.

Our objective within a fluid environment is to maintain services where able with best endeavors. We ask that we are not presented with any freight unless there is a high certainty that we can deliver. Where able we kindly ask that we are provided with a receiver name and phone number on each consignment to assist with delivery.

As an essential service we cannot expose our team to unnecessary risk that may compromise supply lines critical to supporting continuity of other essential services in the best interests of all New Zealanders.

Contactless safety protocols

  • Always maintain 3-metre social distancing
  • No signature required on delivery in the event a receiver is unable to sign a delivery receipt outside the 3-metre zone, and with their own pen
  • In the event of “no signature”, our drivers will request the receiver’s full name

We thank our customers who continue to help promote the safety of our team and each other in these challenging times.

Equally we extend our gratitude and admiration to many New Zealanders providing essential front-line duties.

If you have any questions or require further information please contact your account manager or local branch.

23rd March 2020

As the impacts of COVID-19 unfold we will continue to provide concise information to assist your ability to make informed decisions.

The New Zealand Government today announced an Alert Level 3 status, moving to Level 4 in 48 hours (Wednesday 25th March), closing schools and non-essential business.

Mainfreight understands its role as an identified essential service to maintain supply lines, a message repeated by governments around the world as they look to keep borders and domestic channels open for freight.

It is expected that a degree of disruption will emerge in the next 48 hours, as business volumes alters and service requirements change. KiwiRail’s recent announcement outlining a reduction in passenger sailings across the Cook Straight and a stand-down of selected rail services, is an early indication that supply chains are going to require adjustment as demand and expectation alters.

Currently our focus is to maintain services to all destinations as volume and restrictions allow. Strategically it is imperative that our customers make provision for extra day transits ahead of time as the full impact of the situation emerges in coming days.

Further communication will be provided as information comes to hand.

If you have any questions regarding this collection and delivery protocol, please contact your account manager or local branch.


18th March 2020

18th March 2020

As a responsible industry leader, we are committed to using our best efforts to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 – for the welfare of our customers, team and communities.

Our teams are aware of their critical role in maintaining supply lines to business and homes, here and around the world.  The physical nature of freight movement means that we cannot isolate ourselves.  Daily engagement with our customers is a requirement, for the collection and delivery of freight.

We are seeing the introduction of waivers or signed declarations swamping our industry at this time, but these do not add any level of protection, compared with using common sense.  Going forward, our drivers will adopt a simple pragmatic solution, widely recommended by health experts, to manage safe separation and hygiene disciplines. 

Please don’t feel offended if our driver no longer shakes hands, or is seen to be maintaining a 3-meter separation protocol for contactless collections or deliveries.  A smile and a wave will quickly be reciprocated.

The following measures are designed to reduce our drivers’ and customers’ exposure, in both business and home environments:

Home deliveries

  • During our pre-delivery telephone call, we will now be asking receivers questions around their health status and if any household members are in self-isolation. Deliveries to affected properties will be managed on a case-by-case basis.
  • With all home deliveries, when arriving at a residence, we will knock and then step back, ensuring a 3 metre distance is in place at all times (or as far as possible in safety).
  • We will deliver to an agreed location outside of the residence or we will deliver inside the door only. We will not proceed any further than to have the goods safely inside and allowing the door to operate.
  • Our drivers will print the receiver’s name on the consignment note in front of the receiver, as signatures are no longer mandatory.
  • No in-house installations will be undertaken until further notice.
  • No returns from private premises will be accepted until further notice.

Business Deliveries/Collections

  • The 3-metre rule outlined above applies.
  • Drivers will sanitise hands after each activity and regularly during daily delivery /collection routines.
  • If receivers are uncomfortable signing delivery documents for any reason, outside the 3-metre separation area with their own pen, the driver will request a full name which they will endorse on each consignment receipt prefixed with COVID.

We continue to monitor the health of our drivers and all our team members, encouraging anyone displaying any signs of illness to stay at home. As usual, we will be offering all our team free flu vaccinations as winter approaches.

We will continue to do our utmost to meet our obligations and keep supply channels working. We ask for your continued support by communicating this simple message where necessary. 

The situation is being monitored daily and these measures are subject to change as required.

If you have any questions regarding this collection and delivery protocol, please contact your account manager or local branch.