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COVID 19 Update Ports of Auckland response Cargo Owners, Freight Forwarders and Transport Operators

The Current Situation and our Response

Good Evening,


The current situation:

New Zealand is now at COVID-19 Alert Level 3 and will move to Alert Level 4 at 23:59 today. After this all except essential businesses will close.

Ports of Auckland is an essential business and so are all the businesses we work with. This includes all trucking companies, stevedores, contractors and so on.

Our Response:

We have reorganised our business so that staff who need to be here to keep the port operating can be here and be safe. Staff who can do their jobs from home will now work from home to reduce the risk of infection getting into the port.

This means the way you interact with some of our functions, like customer services, will change. More detail will be provided later today. We are operating with fewer staff from now on, this is unavoidable. But we will prioritise the movement of freight through our operational teams and we will keep the port open.

What you can do:

We need a huge effort from all parts of the supply chain to help to keep the port open. It’s vital that everybody knows how to protect themselves from infection and that anyone who is sick or who has travelled in the past 14 days should not come to the port. These simple steps will help us help you.

Our prime objective is to ensure the well-being of our staff so we can continue to keep the port open and operating efficiently. To achieve this objective and keep cargo flowing, there are several changes we need to implement now.


The total number of VBS slots released daily will remain the same at this stage. However, the timeframe for slots released in advance will be reduced from 9 to 5 days for Imports and 4 days for Exports. We have already implemented this change into our release times.

This will allow us to manage any potential factors, such as vessel schedule changes, staff resourcing constraints and yard capacity, all of which can have an impact on our operations and the flow of containers.

We will continue to give priority to Dangerous Goods and Active Reefer containers. Carriers can contact the Transport Co-ordinator (TCO) directly at [email protected] with their container number(s) and the TCO will assist with bookings at a suitable time as close as possible to the carriers request.

Priority will be also be given to essential or high priority supplies, we will be establishing a process for requesting these priority VBS slots which we will confirm separately over the next few days.

POAL On Dock Link Facility

We will stop accepting Import empty container returns to the Link facility from 1700 hours Monday 30th March 2020. Shipping lines are being asked to prioritise the evacuation of empties from the Link area so we can use the space to manage any overflow of containers that cannot be moved in/out of the port due to businesses not being able to operate. This is a proactive step to protect our yard capacity and ability to operate.

Export Empties

We will continue to work with Shipping Lines to ensure more accurate and timely planning of empties to vessels and will separately communicate a new cargo cut off (including empty containers) to come into force from next week. Export empties will be managed as they are today with Lines communicating requirements to their external Container Depot Operators and Empty Container Carriers.

Empty Container Carriers will provide a forecast of demand to our Gate Ops team by 1300 hours each weekday (Note Monday bookings are to be confirmed by 1300 hours Friday) and our team will confirm slots and delivery times by 1500 hours the same day. Empty Carriers are well versed with this process and it will enable us to manage container flows into the Terminal and allocation of yard capacity aligned to agreed container exchange sizes on vessels with the Shipping Lines.

Import and Export cargo freetime and storage at Port

We have received many enquiries in recent days asking for our position on providing storage for non-essential import cargo.

Our position is very clear: We need keep all freight moving so we can keep the port running and get essential cargo through.

Our message to the Logistics industry is 'keep coming to the port to pick up your freight', even if it's not considered 'essential' right now. We need all freight to keep moving to ensure that essential goods can also get through.

For that reason, we must maintain our standard import free time of 3 days from day of cargo discharge as well as the standard free time for export cargoes of 5 days prior to the vessel's arrival. At the Fergusson Container Terminal, the export cargo cut off is being brought forward to 24 hours before the vessel's arrival.

Labour Resourcing

Terminal Operations – A number of stevedores can no longer come to work due to the increased alert levels and government recommendations. As we move to Alert Level 4 it is inevitable there will be further impacts. We have for some time operated with the stevedoring workforce in teams and we will have these teams operating from separate on-port facilities with high level hygiene controls from 0630 Thursday 26th to limit any possible cross-infection.

Because of the increased hygiene controls, shift changeovers will take a little longer as the facilities need to be cleaned before the new shift arrive. This might slow operations a little, but if a colleague becomes infected it will limit the spread in the organisation and protect our ability to work.

Road Office interaction

In order to maintain distancing and to minimise unnecessary contact, the Road Office will now go paperless and no paperwork will be required at the counter (e.g. empty dockets).

For critical paperwork, such as DG certs:

  • Dispatchers please email through the paperwork for Exports as we will no longer be receiving these documents from drivers.
  • For Imports – the Road Office will continue print these out - but only as required.

We will continue to prioritise any critical cargo such as DG's, reefers or medical equipment. We will also prioritise Export Late Cut-Off cargo.

We also wish to remind that PPE gear must be worn at all times, including in the road office.

Preventive measures

In order to minimise the risk of infection we have put the following measures in place:

  • For drivers' safety, hand sanitisers are available for use in the Fergusson Road Office and will also be installed at Multi Cargo office;
  • There is signage placed before the entrance to the premises. The signs are outside the doors to remind all about the safety precautions;
  • The kiosks are being cleaned at least four times a day; - however we also encourage the use of gloves;
  • Toilet blocks are also being cleaned 4 times a day and are frequently being replenished. PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE ITEMS – PLEASE CONSIDER YOUR INDUSTRY COLLEAGUES.

We take our role as critical lifeline infrastructure seriously and we remain focused on ensuring vital supplies can keep moving and making sure we support your businesses and the community.

Keep coming to the port to pick up your freight, even if it's not considered 'essential'. We need all freight to keep moving to ensure that essential goods can also get through.

I hope this update is useful. I will provide further updates as the situation changes.

 Keep in touch. Tell us what's happening in your business to help us plan more effectively how we can support you.

Kind regards
Craig Sain
GM Commercial
Ports of Auckland