A recent industry report, looking at the latest Asia-Europe round-trip voyages, has concluded that the average vessel loop is arriving back in China 20 days late.
The report measured the three carrier alliances and suggested the current scheduling is unsustainable. It went on to surmise that carriers would need to add three ships per loop to maintain weekly services.
Port Congestion and container transport was highlighted as the main cause of the delays, with bottlenecks at European Ports being blamed for the majority of the time lost.
In reality, there are many factors that have led to the delays and decline of schedule reliabilities.
The origin of these issues probably date back a few years, when carriers started building 20,000+ TEU mega-ships that infrastructure has struggled to cope with ever since.
Covid issues in China have clearly influenced departure times over recent weeks. However, the report makes no allowance for vessel delays in arriving at the first European port of call, which often leads to missed berthing slots along the way.
The congestion in mainland European ports has been heavily impacted by carrier choices to increase busy port throughput, by offloading UK bound cargo on the continent. The beneficiaries of these decisions are not European ports, transport companies or UK importers.
Subsequent suggestions that the fault lies ‘mainly’ with the ports and port transport has been misleading and doesn’t tell the whole story. These parties, for the most part, have been left to cope with the hands they have been dealt.
For more information on the above, then please feel free to contact a member of the Killick Martin team.