Shipping arrivals from Asia are suffering delays of 20 days, or more, and there is no improvement in sight.
Widespread port congestion, equipment shortages and a lack of vessels will mean that a return to “normalcy” in liner shipping will come in the second half of next year at the earliest, according to one analyst.
Relief will come from increased container stock, to mitigate the impact of longer box dwell times, and more importantly, the delivery of new tonnage in 2022/2023, across all sizes.
This will follow the fallow period for new vessel orders that has left the industry scrambling for vessels, especially smaller vessels.
“It is easy to be blinded by the big problems – Los Angeles/Long Beach, then Suez and now Yantian – and come to the assumption that they are caused by a few large congestion zones,” said Lars Jensen, CEO and partner at Vespucci Maritime.
“Unfortunately, that would be incorrect, as the congestion problems are widespread.”
Last week, 2M partners Maersk and MSC said they would extend the removal of the Hamburg call on their AE7/Condor loop for a further four weeks, due to “high yard density and exceptional waiting time for our vessels.”
Speaking to The Loadstar, eeSea CEO and founder Simon Sundboell said that schedule reliability has fallen “through the floor.”
“We are seeing vessels with delays of more than 20 days and the rate of schedule reliability globally is just sad,” he added.
Referring to eeSea’s latest punctuality data (chart above), which covers the three major east-west routes with a final call in Asia, the analyst noted, “While I only have schedule reliability figures going back to 2019, the average delay of 5.5 days for all vessels on these routes is surely the lowest in my career.”
“Carriers are doing what they can to catch up, given the circumstances, I recognize that. However, this results in blank sailings and loss of capacity, reported or not, and that also equates to a loss of revenue for the shipping line,” he added.
Sundboell said congestion on the U.S. West Coast, the blockage of the Suez Canal, the Yantian stoppage and the overwhelm of many of the container hub ports in northern Europe have combined to postpone normalization of container shipping.
“I don’t see normalization before June 22,” he said, admitting it was an “unscientific hunch.”