ICE Operations Amid COVID-19 

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’d like to remind our valued partners and customers that ICE has put a remote work schedule in place across all our branches in Australia as part of our efforts to protect our staff and remain servicing you as efficiently as possible.

We remain fully operational and ready to take on any new jobs.

Below is a breakdown of operations in Australia amid the Coronavirus pandemic.

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Importing Hygiene Items and Protective Gear

Click here for information on face masks, hand sanitisers and protective gear import.

Sea Freight

Seaports have experienced significant disruption in Australia due to industrial disputes in late September in Sydney. The impacts of this have caused delays of up to three weeks at Port Botany and caused the introduction of mandatory congestion surcharges. As shipping lines reacted to the dispute by omitting Sydney from their sailing schedules, and refusing to take bookings into the port, it has caused many issues for importers and exports alike.

Due to the severe congestion caused by previous industrial action, empty container parks are almost or at capacity and will not be accepting certain containers to dehire in Sydney. With the current situation we are facing, we are unable to dehire in a timely manner and this is out of our control. Most shipping lines are requesting customers hold onto containers until this is sorted.

The Stink Bug Season also commenced from 1st September 2020. Where possible we advise customers to treat high risk or target high risk cargo at origin to avoid further delays on arrival.

Air Freight

Airfreight both into and out of Australia is in high demand with somewhat limited flight options. The good news is, we are starting to see more flight options become available. Rates are changing daily and schedules are extended. If you have an airfreight request please contact our team and be aware that due to the ongoing impacts of COVID19, pricing is at a premium at this current time.

Across The Globe Updates


  • We currently have Seafreight options ex China and availability for bookings but the suspension of the YOYO service until the end of Q4 has reduced capacity by at least 15% . Our advice remains to book early to secure space and meet your required timeframes and allow an additional 7 days for container rolls.
  • In a positive turn of events we are pleased to announce ZIM is entering the Australian market with a fast service, named China-Australia Express (CAX). CAX, commencing in mid-October 2020, will offer 11-day transit time from South China to Sydney – one of the fastest in the market.
  • Airfreight services are currently available, and pricing is starting to show some signs of relief. Transit times are also improving but please contact us in advance so we can organise your freight on your preferred service.


  • The conditional movement control order has moved into a recovery mode providing more opportunity for local suppliers to return to normal operations. Almost all economic sectors will be allowed to open with conditions to adhere to standard operating procedures.
  • Some flights are delayed and backlogs are creating scheduling issues leading to a decrease in service options.


  • Indonesian Customs have limited physical interaction due to COVID-19. All documents must be submitted online for their internal approval. Indonesian Customs working hours are reduced from 9 am to 4 pm.
  • No major impacts on imports or exports.
  • Limited airfreight options currently available.


  • All Ports are operational although there is a significant space crisis at the moment from all India ports, due to cancellations by lines, blank sailings and inventory issues. Please place your bookings early to understand the best schedules available.
  • We are handling port operations at NhavaSheva, Chennai, Kolkata, Mundra, New Delhi, Custom clearance and transportation (both interstate and within the State). However, Mumbai/NhavaSheva area is in extremely infected zone, hence all drivers from other states have left the place and migrated to their native places/villages, and as a consequence, there is a huge shortage of drivers for moving the container from port to factories.


  • Due to the effect COVID-19 is having on the Trade Industry, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is accepting requests for duty-payment extensions.
  • Space is in high demand for ocean freight imports and exports and booking in advance is key.
  • Airfreight services are at a premium with charter options being introduced by some airlines


COSCO transhipment service from Italy is experiencing heavy delays in Singapore (and Piraeus, if cargo originates from Adriatic sea).

We’ve engaged with Cosco to understand the reason of such poor performances.

The Shipping line has advised that this issue will persist for the next couple months at least, possibly further till after CNY.

The reason of the delay in Singapore (and Piraeus) are linked to:

  • Increasing amount of container being shipped from NEA, where containers are given priority over European cargo because of higher Ocean freight being paid on this routing
  • Ongoing congestion at main Australian ports, started with Sydney and now affecting Melbourne and Brisbane as well

COSCO Europe will continue to cut vessel TEU’s capability on planned vessel and will keep in place the Blank Sailings policy. We recommend choosing alternative carriers and are on hand to assist.


  • As per Italy, Sea ports continue to operate and sailings are still available but booking in advance is a must. Blank sailings have resulted in high demand and potential implementation of peak season surcharges.
  • The equipment situation for reefers extremely tight so please let us know if you require a reefer as a priority. Please also note you must book early to avoid disappointed in this current environment.
  • For airfreight, the rising numbers of COVID19 cases in Europe and reduced services are having an adverse impact on capacity and pricing. We expect this to be problematic until the end of 2020 and suggest clients consider our air sea solution as an alternative.


  • Sea freight operations for both import and export continue as usual.
  • Only charter connections and Cargo flights operate until further notice.


  • Airfreight:  Operational but still high marked volumes. Full and part charter options, as well as the use of freighter networks, has become key.
  • Oceanfreight: can still be fulfilled and advanced booking is advised
coronavirus poster protect yourself and others
coronavirus poster

For the most up to date case numbers and more official information about the COVID-19, visit the Australian Department of Health page.

What Others Are Saying About International Cargo Express

Managed goods end to end

Due to critical stock levels we needed a fast solution to urgently meet growing client demand. Presented with this challenge, ICE quickly identified appropriate freighter services and proactively managed the movement of goods end to end.

Eddie Liaw – Supply Chain Director

ICE offered flexibility

ICE offered flexibility, high levels of communication and attention to detail during our pick, pack and delivery project. With their professional support we were able to meet the demands of our supply chain knowing our freight was in safe hands.

Tony Kealy – National Distribution Manager

Without exception and on time

Since having International Cargo Express handle my ocean freight , I have had my bookings and equipment available without exception and on time. Communication between ICE and my supplier is very good and I receive information via my shipper before my supplier.

Michael Caiacob – Purchasing and Supply Officer

Find Out How Our Team Can Help

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