With demand likely to remain high and additional capacity not due for a few more years, the shipping lines look set to reap a revenue harvest until new vessels begin to be delivered in 2023.
Congestion in North Europe’s major ports will reach “critical” levels over the next four weeks as container terminals struggle to turnaround ships embroiled in the six-day Suez Canal closure and shipping lines are expecting that many services will miss one to two sailings, which will negatively impact capacity in the second quarter.
The mega-container ship Ever Given has been recovered and the Suez Canal is unblocked, but the real problems for shippers have just begun, with some lines refusing to accept Asia bookings (in either direction) blanked sailings announced and the ripples of disruption likely to touch all aspects of global Maritime trade.
The Evergreen Ever Given has been grounded sideways since Tuesday morning, blocking vessels in both directions along the Suez Canal, creating one of the worst shipping jams seen in years and threatening even more chaos, when the grounded vessel, together with those behind it, arrive at their destination.
It is the inefficient circulation of containers that has provided one of the biggest supply chain challenges, as the pandemic-caused slowdown in the redistribution of container equipment, combined with sharply higher volumes, has reduced overall system capacity, driving up rates and creating global delays.
Supply chains continue to be challenged by the impacts of the COVID pandemic, which is why we have continued to focus on the provision of air, sea/air and sea freight services from Asia and the US for your time-sensitive and urgent shipments.
The port and terminal disruption that began in Felixstowe last Summers, before spreading to Southampton and London Gateway has not disappeared, with congestion continuing to disrupt collections, empty returns and LCL unloading.
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.