The coronavirus is dominating the headlines and the lives of many of us around the world. In such uncertain times, talking about business is not the highest priority for most. But please allow me a moment of your time. The safety and health of our families, colleagues and business partners are of paramount significance to us, as are the health and well-being of the communities in which we operate. Nothing is more important.
All of us are being called upon to help curb the disease from spreading further, and we believe it is important to be transparent about how we are responding to the outbreak to avoid unnecessary risks whilst keeping business going. For example, we have asked as many colleagues as possible to work from home, we have equipped all staff with additional modern IT infrastructure and new collaboration tools. We have cancelled our attendance at trade shows and postponed all business travel. Our crews are not changing ships in high-risk areas, and additional safety measures are being implemented on board our vessels.
In parallel, we are also doing everything in our power to maintain uninterrupted service for you. Our business is up and running, and the business continuity plans we have in place have prevented any significant disruption to work productivity or customer service. However, conditions are challenging for all of us at the moment. We hope that you can understand and accept that even though we are doing our best to meet your needs, there may still be times when we are unable to provide our services at the normal speed and when delays might be encountered.
In terms of trade, we see that many ports in China have returned to normal operations, and that scheduled sailings and bookings ex-China are gradually increasing. For our part, we have on-hired over 100,000 TEU of additional equipment across the globe to keep the supply chain flowing. Our vessels are today operating as usual and our service structure is largely unchanged.
So far the crisis has had only limited impact on our business, but we expect a significant effect of the virus on global container traffic in the months to come, and if this happens we will have to make some adjustments to the network. We have – after a very good 2019 in which we improved profitability significantly and reduced debt more than planned – taken additional precautionary financial measures now to assure that even if the crisis persists longer than we expect today, we will be able to offer you the services and products you need.
Throughout this period, we will do our utmost to provide you with simple and smooth business solutions, such as our online quoting and booking system Quick Quotes and the Hapag-Lloyd Navigator Dashboard – which can also be used from home and allows you to easily interact with us. I encourage you to make use of these tools which also allow you to book additional assurance like a Shipping Guarantee.
Over the coming weeks, we will continue to navigate these unchartered waters and move as close as possible to “business as usual”. We will keep you duly informed of the measures being put in place to ensure that the critical global trade and your supply chains keep operating smoothly.
We know that this is something we can only achieve together, and we are proud of and grateful for your continuous support and your trust in our company, services and people. Let’s keep on working closely together throughout the next few months – and please let us know if there is anything we can do to help you out.
All of us here at Hapag-Lloyd hope that you are taking care of yourself, your families and friends, and that you are staying safe and healthy.
Wishing you all the best,
Rolf Habben Jansen