Schedules remain in chaos as Covid-19 problems congest ports


Congestion at container terminals in northern Europe and Asia continue to disrupt global shipping line schedules, quarantines and side effects of the Covid-19 virus vaccination are attributed to increased instability in the supply chain.

Labor shortages in the Benelux ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam have been attributed to the aftermath of the vaccination.

Hapag-Lloyd informed its customers of “limited crew availability” at PSA’s Antwerp facility and similar problems in neighboring Rotterdam.

“ECT is unable to crew all available cranes due to a shortage of manpower, which is strongly affected by the vacation period; in addition, ECT is facing an unusually high number of declared sick workers, partly related to the side effects of the Covid vaccination,” he said.

He added that labor shortages “remain an issue” in Southampton, THE Alliance’s UK hub, but did not suggest that labor shortages due to dockworkers calling in sick following Covid vaccination were the cause of this case.

Instead, Southampton sources suggested that vessel delays have caused ships to arrive back-to-back, meaning that the terminal has not had the normal breaks to rest its workforce. And this has led to an increase in the number of crews.

In addition, the source said that vessel scheduling is improving and this, combined with DP World’s investments, announced for Southampton in April, means that the terminal will be in a good position to cope with continued high demand in the coming months.

In Asia, Maersk has again updated its customers on the situation in the Chinese port of Yantian, from where it has been forced to divert more than 80 of its own and partner vessels following an outbreak of Covid-19 there at the end of May.

The carrier said this had affected the schedules of some 19 of its mainline services, but the current situation at the port was “improving”, and Maersk was “starting to repatriate” its services at the port.

He added that shipyard density and overall productivity had improved at Yantian, with vessel waiting times for berthing reduced to just half a day.

“Shipyard density has dropped to 65%, which has brought overall productivity to 85% of normal levels. Congestion at Yantian is clearing, but when one port is affected it can become a downward spiral for neighboring ports,” Maersk said.

It noted that dock congestion and vessel waiting times at other major ports in the region had been affected by the impact of vessel diversions; for example, Hong Kong recorded a 93% yard density and a three-day wait for a berthing window.

Maersk resumed direct calls at Yantian last week on its Northern Europe and Mediterranean service, including its AE6, AE7, AE10 and AE11 loops, but warned that it may be forced to skip other ports that had subsequently been affected by congestion.

“The decision as to which port to divert to will always be made with the goal of minimizing supply chain delays, and we ask for your patience while we manage this situation as best we can,” he told customers.

“As we navigate this, it is clear that the situation will remain fluid for some time,” warned Ahmed Bashir, Maersk’s head of global execution.

Source The Loadstar

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