Omicron remains ‘wild card’ in shipping conditions, says FTR

The conditions faced by shippers continue to decline in the face of surging diesel prices and tighter capacities alike, FTR’s latest Shippers Conditions Index shows. But there are signs that suggest the environment will ease somewhat in 2022 – depending on the impact of the Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The October index dropped to a -12.38 reading, largely driven by rising freight rates, and hit the lowest reading since an all-time low was reached in March.

Covid-19 survey
(Illustration: iStock)

The Shippers Condition Index tracks the full-load freight market’s freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity and fuel prices. A positive score represents optimistic conditions.

“Shippers conditions should gradually ease in the new year with active truck utilization moving off of the full utilization level it has maintained since the recovery from the pandemic started in 2020,” said Todd Tranausky, vice-president – rail and intermodal.

“But active truck utilization is still expected to be at high levels throughout 2022 and it will take time for additional rail capacity to come online. This will keep shippers’ conditions from improving dramatically or quickly in the new year. Uncertainty about the disruption that could be caused by the Omicron variant remains high and could prove to be a wild card for demand and supply early in the new year.”

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