Optimism in signs that the equipment shortage crisis might improve after Chinese New Year, have been dealt a blow with the surprise announcement of blanked Asia to UK sailings, despite it being widely reported that carriers would not be using this tactic this year.
2M alliance members Maersk and MSC will blank three sailings from Asia to North Europe in weeks 5-7, including one vessel that will be allowed to ‘slide’ into the following week, while maintaining existing bookings.
MSC said the blanking’s were necessary “due to the slowdown in demand during CNY” as well as the “challenging congestion across the supply chain”.
Maersk advised its customers that the blanking’s were needed to “improve schedule reliability”, to “free up these services for schedule recovery measures” in response to “severe port congestion and equipment limitations”.
The Loadstar quoted a carrier source, who confirmed that “they are fully booked right the way through CNY, plus there has been so much cargo rolled over recently that it can’t be a question of reduced demand, so my guess is that they want to get some sort of schedule back by cutting out the sailings.”
Industry experts confirm that schedule reliability on the route was “worse than we’ve seen in a long time” and that “these blanks are necessary and required scheduling recovery measures, they’re not meant to take out capacity.”
Ocean Alliance member CMA CGM will skip three loops during the same period, while HMM is reported to have deployed an extra loader at the end of the month from Busan to Hamburg to cater for the cargo overflows of South Korean shippers after pressure from their government.
According to The Loadstar, Chinese regional carrier China United Lines is in advanced planning stages to launch a standalone service to North Europe, deploying a string of small feeder vessels.
While we have, like the rest of the market, seen significant prices and volume pressures on all major sea freight markets, our carrier partners have honoured agreements and have been, as far as they can be, proactive in their support.
Metro are working around blanked vessels and will always provide all realistic options available in a chaotic container market and we hope to experience negligible impact through our planning and early decisive actions on allocating containers over the period.
Metro negotiate rates and volume agreements with a broad portfolio of carriers, across the three alliances, to offer our shippers the widest range of service offerings, port-pairings and rates.
For further information contact Ian Barnes, who would be delighted to talk to you about your situation.