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Labor tensions in expedited transport are heating up as the fall shipping season gets underway.
Atlas Air Worldwide Holdings
is accusing unionized pilots of causing “widespread and significant” flight delays with a work slowdown, the WSJ’s Imani Moise reports. The freighter operator, which this year struck a jet-leasing and investment deal with
is asking a court to order the Teamsters union to end what Atlas says is an illegal job action that includes last-minute sick calls and refusal to work overtime. The dispute is similar to one last year between pilots and
Air Transport Services Group
another cargo flier that works closely with Amazon. The airlines and their customers—including
United Parcel Service
—are trying to meet increasingly tough delivery demands that come with the growth in e-commerce. The online sales are pushing out more packages, but the labor unease suggests they’re also adding strains to expedited networks.
Alibaba Group Holding
is putting new financial weight behind its logistics business. The Chinese e-commerce giant is spending $800.8 million to take majority control in Cainiao Smart Logistics Ltd., the WSJ’s Alyssa Abkowitz reports, and plans to invest another $15.1 billion over the next five years to expand its delivery capabilities and the automation in its fulfillment operations. The plan carries potentially important implications for Alibaba’s international growth plans that go beyond the distribution networks, however. Taking full control could allay concerns over financial transparency that drew the attention of U.S. securities regulators last year. Alibaba is highly profitable, but it doesn’t count Cainiao’s losses or include its assets on its balance sheet. It will also give Alibaba more control over logistics and customer data as the company looks to expand its reach outside China with investments in Southeast Asia and India.
PLC, like other consumer-products suppliers, is trying to put the best face on its business prospects. The Anglo-Dutch group is buying Carver Korea, a Seoul-based provider of skin-care products, the WSJ’s Saabira Chaudhuri reports, in its ongoing push to pivot into higher-growth sectors and get more of the big but potentially problematic Chinese market. The $2.7 billion acquisition is Unilever’s biggest in seven years, one measure of the urgency among consumer-goods suppliers in a changing retail environment. E-commerce has cut into sales at the traditional storefronts that sell consumer staples, and many retailers are trying to prop up their profit margins by moving toward their own brands. China is a beckoning market to Unilever, which lags in sales there, but there also are geopolitical clouds over the business: tensions between South Korea and Beijing have been growing, making Unilever’s move into China through Seoul a risky path.
Workers at Puerto Rico’s main airport are trying to restore operations to the island’s main lifeline to the outside world. A trickle of flights is moving through the airport following the devastating damage inflicted by Hurricane Maria, the WSJ’s Jose De Cordoba and Arian Campo-Flores report, most of them military and aid flights bringing in critical supplies from power generators to drinking water. The struggle at the airport, which is operating with only limited radar and communications equipment, is part of the broader battle in Puerto Rico after Maria wiped out important infrastructure. A new estimate said damage from Maria could end up exceeding that inflicted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma, and it’s crippled relief efforts. Sen. Marco Rubio said the logistics of getting supplies, equipment and personnel to the airport and ports remains challenging. Getting relief beyond the sites is just as difficult: technicians trying to reach a damaged long-range radar site were using chainsaws to get through two miles of crushed and impassable rain forest.
This isn’t what electronics companies usually mean by a reverse logistics. Consumer disappointment with
new iPhone offerings is weighing on the shares of key component makers in Asia, the WSJ’s Kevin Kingsbury reports, signaling that concerns over supplier earnings are rising as hopes for a boost from Apple’s flagship device are fading. Confidence in companies linked to Apple’s supply chain had been riding high. But that excitement has given way to some disappointment and criticism of the new devices, and production glitches that have led to shipment delays have added to the problems. The troubles mark a rare stumble in an Apple supply chain known for its precision in linking suppliers of high-value parts and contract manufacturers. Apple has a long reach in the electronics world, of course, but the impact of the new iPhones wasn’t what suppliers were expecting.
IN OTHER NEWS
Oil prices are poised to return to bull-market territory after a slow climb from their slide three months ago. (WSJ)
is raising its minimum wage as the retailer competes to fill low-wage jobs in a tighter labor market. (WSJ)
German business leaders warn that the rise of a nationalist anti-immigration party could hurt the nation’s export-driven economy. (WSJ)
is selling its industrial-solutions business to Switzerland’s
The number of U.S. mergers and acquisitions has grown this year but deal values have slipped 15%. (WSJ)
Canadian retailers are concerned a U.S. proposal raise the duty-free threshold on cross-border imports would hurt sales. (Calgary Herald)
Amazon took a 5% stake in Indian retailer
The Uber Technologies Inc. UberEats business has been a surprising success in a competitive food-delivery market. (
New York Times
Japan’s government raised about $11.6 billion in an offering of its shares in
Japan Post Holdings
(Nikkei Asian Review)
The Trump administration named Raymond Martinez, chief administrator of the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission, to lead the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. (Fleet Owner)
Dockworkers and employers at U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast ports are moving closer toward contract negotiations. (Journal of Commerce)
Iran’s shipping line IRISL formed a joint venture freight business with Kazakhstan’s national railway. (Splash 24/7)