Asian supply chains experience the same volume issues with the shipping lines every year, around the Chinese New Year period, and it never fails to catch many out, as demand peaks in the run-up and falls away after, resulting in many blanked sailings.

We have posted guidelines and recommended actions repeatedly in the run up to the New Year holidays, which have hopefully prompted many shipper to take positive action ahead of the holidays.

The situation now moves to getting to grips with all the blanked sailings that the lines are announcing, in an attempt to reduce volumes to match the lower demand levels, that are experienced during the holiday pardon and the weeks after.

A blank (meaning removed) sailing is one that will be skipping a port, or its entire string of port calls have been canceled.

We have seen a number of blanked sailing announced by many carriers including OOCL, COSO, MSC and Hapag Lloyd. If our cargo is booked on a sailing that has been canceled, it is rescheduled to depart on the next available sailing. We recommend contacting us directly for the latest availability.

Why do shipping lines announce blank sailings?

  1. When demand for space is low, as it is during CNY, the carriers reduce volume by removing vessels, which means that the remaining vessels fill up, which keeps their rates firm.
  2. Blank sailing are also common practice when ports are experiencing severe congestion or delays, such as those that befell Felixstowe last year.
  3. It could be that a vessel needs repairs or inspections, which prevent it from fulfilling its original schedule.
  4. Events beyond the carriers control, such as weather-related delays or labour disputes, may mean that the vessel needs to skip a port in order to maintain its schedule.
  5. Carriers may also blank a vessel on one route, for a better commercial opportunity.
  6. If carriers are reducing the number of strings on a trade, or rescheduling for any reason, they may introduce blank sailings during the transition period.

As above, if a shipper has the misfortune of having cargo scheduled on a blank sailing, we automatically re-book onto the next available sailing. Subject to client’s approval we review alternative services with priority on fastest transit options, which may catch up, or even overtake the original vessel.