Congestion induces carriers to blank up to 25pc of sailings
OCEAN carriers will blank up to quarter of TEU capacity to North America’s west coast ports in response to port congestion, reports Fort Lauderdale’s Maritime Executive.
“With the North America demand boom and the resulting port congestion, carriers have been struggling to meet their weekly vessel departure obligations, resulting in vessel delays, rolled schedules, and blank sailings,” said Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence.
“This trend has been increasing in recent weeks, with 28.4 per cent of the total Asia-North America west coast capacity blanked in week 44,.” he said.
Mr Murphy is calling it “congestion-induced blank sailings”, where carriers have been forced to blank sailings from their schedule not because of overcapacity, but because the ships are not returning in time due to port congestion.
The largest impact is currently on the Asia-North America west coast trade routes where Sea-Intelligence reports as much as a quarter of weekly capacity is blanked due to the delays throughout the system.
Carriers usually resort to blank sailings to control overcapacity. Through the spring of 2020, carriers averaged nearly a 25 per cent cancelation rate according to the data from Sea-Intelligence before they restored capacity.
The current trend in blank sailings began early in 2021. While it has been fluctuating, Sea-Intelligence notes the trend has been rising through the entire year.
For all of 2020, the data shows blank sailings between Asian and the North American west coast ports average 12 per cent of TEU capacity versus an expected average of nearly 20 per cent of capacity for all of 2021.
Mr Murphy said sailings are mostly not be blanked in advance, but are blanked closer to scheduled departures.
In previous reports, Sea-Intelligence highlighted that schedule reliability remains at a low point for the container shipping industry. Their data showed that only a third of the containerships were on schedule in October containing at low levels since the summer of 2021.