The American Shipper Top 10: Containers overboard, stock selloffs, and an air rebound

Shippers faced many challenges in 2020, and COVID-19 was just one. One ship lost thousands of containers, investors fled shipping stocks early in the year, and airlines faced uncertainty with different strategies.

The American Shipper Top 10 stories of the year are chosen by you, the reader, throughout the year by simply choosing to read our stories. These are the Top 10 stories on based on page views, from No. 10 to No. 1.

10. Yeah, no thanks

Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings (NASDQ: AAWW) reported 25% more revenue in the third quarter compared to 2019, but when it was suggested by Rep. James Clyburn that Atlas return money it received under the CARES Act, the airline said no.

9. No time like the present

As most airlines are cautiously ramping up passenger service, Emirates Air is moving quickly. In September, the airline announced it would return its massive Airbus A380 double-decker planes to service.

8. No more room on this ship

As the U.S. economy rebounded quickly from coronavirus shutdowns, container space aboard ships quickly disappeared. By October, shippers looking for capacity were left with few, if any, choices.

7. Coming back to life

Global cargo trade from early factory shutdowns in China related to the COVID-19 pandemic nearly stopped in the early portion of 2020, but by March, positive signs began emerging of an economy ready to roar back to life.

6. Rail opening?

One of the signature trade deals signed by the Trump administration was the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement, which replaced the North American Free Trade Agreement. The deal didn’t specify infrastructure development, but there is a path forward for rail nonetheless.

5. Let’s not waste too much time on this

When Delta Air Lines (NYSE: DAL) ripped the seats out of a Boeing 777 so it could be used as a cargo plane, expectations were high that Delta could replace lost passenger revenue with cargo revenue. But two months later, that plane was decommissioned. Why?

4. Jones Act turns 100

One of the most controversial shipping laws ever passed — the Jones Act — turned 100 in 2020. Conceived as a way to drive more domestic production, the Jones Act has been surrounded in controversy in recent years.

3. We didn’t see this coming

May 5, 2020, was one of the most unusual days for tanker stocks in quite some time. Despite record-high earnings and strengthening rates, owners of tanker stocks sold — and they sold a lot.

2. Going it alone

As the world waited for a COVID vaccine, the race behind the scenes to handle the all-important logistical challenges to distributing the vaccine heated up. Ignoring calls to tap into the government’s distribution system, Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) announced it would handle its own distribution.

1.  Lost at sea

It’s not unheard of for cargo containers to be lost as sea. What happened to the containers onboard the Ocean Network Express Apus ship in December when it encountered a storm, though, was far different.

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