CLECAT, the European Association for Forwarding, Transport, Logistics and Customs Services, has voiced its concern that carriers are using the bunker adjustment factor (BAF) as ‘a revenue-raising tool as well as a cost-recovery’ during the COVID-19 crisis.
CLECAT says the one-to-two-month time lag in the calculation of bunker fuel surcharges means that cargo owners and freight forwarders have yet to receive the benefit of the recent dramatic 35% fall in very low sulphur fuel oil (VLSFO) prices.
The Association noted that: ‘The time-lag of adapting the fuel indexes is usually long when the fuel prices drop and short when the prices rise.’ In the current situation, where low sulphur fuel prices have tumbled, carriers are still locked into bunker surcharges based on high fuel prices.
Willem van der Schalk, President of CLECAT, commented on the concerns of the European freight forwarding community: ‘This gives rise to the suspicion that carriers are using the bunker adjustment factor as a revenue-raising tool as well as a cost-recovery during the COVID-19 crisis.
‘Whereas freight forwarders understand that carriers are facing increased costs to secure continuity of services, all other parties in the logistics supply chain are facing disruption and fall-outs, not the least our clients, the shippers.’
He continued: 'We will continue to live in uncertain times for quite a while, but this should not prevent us from seeking to introduce higher levels of transparency in the calculation of fuel costs. This should be part of normal relationship and continuous dialogue between the parties in the maritime logistics supply chain.’