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.

Many shipping lines have stopped taking bookings from across Asia to the UK and North Europe until the end of December as heavy and sustained demand has overwhelmed the container supply chain, creating chronic shortages in equipment and driving rates up, with further increases expected in January.

The strong demand on containers out of Asia and accumulated backlog over the last weeks, has prompted the temporary booking stop on the Asia-North Europe trade for at least weeks 49, 50, and 51.

While it is unusual for a carrier to refuse bookings for three weeks on a major trade lane during peak season demand, the move is broadly similar to blanking sailings, that we have experienced throughout the year.

The severe shortage of empty containers in Asian origin ports has been building since September, when the spike in volume from China to the US caused container availability in Asia to drop 37% to a level that is almost 50% lower year over year.

Our operations teams in Asia and the UK are working continuously to facilitate our client’s needs and keep supply chains moving, to ensure we are offering our clients the very best service.
 
We recommend providing as much notice as possible for any new container orders, however we are at the ready to support any last minute needs.