The Coronavirus pandemic continues to suppress global demand for most goods, leading container shipping lines to cancel a record number of sailings through June, but with expectations of demand rising, vessels are being reinstated.
Despite some lines reinstating blanked trans-pacific services, analysts suggest this does not indicate a demand rebound is underway.
Asia-Europe rates have continued to rise as lines have successfully matched lower demand with record blanked sailings and Hapag-Lloyd has been quoted as stating they have no intention of reinstating Asia – Europe services.
“Metro leverage established relationships and agreements with all the major alliances to pro-actively keep our customers supply chains moving: Robust capacity, booking and planning processes, are aligned with the abilities of our partners in Asia, to maximise their local knowledge and presence.”
The total number of Asia – Europe blank sailings has plateaued for a few weeks and in the past week a few sailings have actually been re-instated as carriers evidently believe there is sufficient demand to warrant the additional capacity.
While demand will inevitably start to increase, we do not believe that these moves alter the carriers’ approach to blank sailings aggressively, to ensure best utilisation on the vessels that do sail, and in the process protect rates.
In a further complication, the median vessel size deployed on the Asia-North Europe trade is now 17,000 TEU, which diminishes the option of tweaks and means the lines are left with bold moves to boost or remove capacity.
Looking ahead, though inevitable, there are no material blank sailings for Q3, as the booking uptake tends to start 4-5 weeks prior to loading, which means we will begin to see carriers blank sailings for July within the next couple of weeks.
However the lines capacity plans and blanking programme pans out, we will continue to move our customers’ cargo. Shipping as booked, even in the most exceptional of circumstances.