When looking back at this time last year, we remember how many businesses who were reliant on container shipping were in trouble due to a big surge in cancelled sailings. These cancellations were due to Chinese New Year and the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that we are starting a new year and the world is trying to recover in all possible ways from the pandemic, the big question on everyone’s lips is, ”Will many sailings be cancelled or blanked at all?”
According to Vincent Clerc, the head of ocean transport at Copenhagen-based company, Maersk, the world’s leading container liner will be cancelling fewer trips than they normally do this Chinese holiday. “There are two reasons: Demand for transport is so high that there is enough need for us to load more than we normally do during the two weeks of Chinese New Year,” he explains. “The other reason is that we need our ships to sail to bring back containers from the U.S. and Europe to Asia.”
Frustration over Service Delays
While there may be fewer cancellations and blanked sailings, many customers of container lines are becoming frustrated with the service delays, increasing freight rates, difficulty to secure cargo space and difficulty in trying to get their goods shipped, especially when online sales are increasing.
Container lines use blanked sailings to match capacity with demand, and keep their rates from going down, however these blanked sails cause a number of issues for those shipping cargo who are trying to manage their delivery dates and inventories. Allan Murphy of Sea-Intelligence tells that as of the beginning of January 2021, only five blank sailings had been announced on transpacific routes, and seven blank sailings from Asia to Europe for the three week period of the Chinese New Year. This is compared with the 88 blanked sailings we saw in 2020, and 67 in 2019.
We look forward to seeing what this year and the next hold as the global shipping and logistics industry works hard to recover from the damage caused by the pandemic and lockdowns. While there are definitely hardships being experienced now, we might see an improved industry emerge from the wreckage!