Chinese New Year (CNY), Lunar New Year or Spring Festival, celebrates the beginning of the New Year on the traditional Chinese calendar and falls this year on Friday the 12th February, with three days public holiday in Hong Kong and seven days on the mainland.
Strike action, due to start today, by British Airways’ cargo handlers at London Heathrow has been called off after progress in talks between the union Unite and BA.
The Coronavirus outbreak and subsequent COVID pandemic massively impacted supply chains, rates, vessel space and equipment availability last year and is showing little sign of ending any time soon in 2021, with Chinese New Year and the traditional blanked sailings in the mix too.
The shortage of containers in Asia, limiting their ability to load exports, and the continuation of port congestion across the UK and Northern Europe has had a profound impact on sea freight services, with a number of shipping lines suspending all freight bookings until, at the earliest, the last week in December.
Bad weather, which began last week, has forced the intermittent suspension of operations at Southampton, exacerbating ongoing issues at the port with high import volumes, mounting stacks of empty containers and a shortage of haulage.
As the peak season from Asia looks set to continue up to Chinese New Year with more price rises and blanked sailings on the way, our MD in the region considers four critical developments in 2020 and how they impacted rates, volumes and equipment availability.
Despite the peak season continuing and the shipping lines on the way to a colossal $11 billion profit for 2020, further price rises and blanked sailings are on the way.
The modern-day container dates back to 1956, when American entrepreneur, Malcolm McLean, shipped the first containers from Newark to Houston, in an innovation that transformed international shipping. The container now underpins the global economy moving $4 trillion of goods every year.
Equipment shortages are spreading to China, as the lines struggle to reposition sufficient empty containers, with some lines diverting equipment to higher-yielding trans-pacific trade lanes.
Loading a trailer, container or airline ULD is like completing a puzzle in three dimensions, with financial penalties if you get it wrong and rewards if you load effectively.