Congestion at key ports of North Europe – Maersk updates clients

Ongoing congestion at ports across North Europe has led Denmark-based shipper AP Moller-Maersk announces an update on the situation at the major ports of Bremerhaven, Rotterdam, Hamburg and Antwerp.

Following a 48-hour strike across German terminals, negotiations between trade union ver.di and the Central Association of German Seaport Companies (ZDS) were continuing, but were yet to reach agreement, said Maersk. Operations were currently running at full capacity, with no strikes planned until late August.

Maersk said that the ongoing congestion across North European ports was leading to further disruptions and delays. This, in combination with the 48-hour strike, was causing an increased waiting time for Maersk vessels to berth. Additionally, several rail routes faced technical issues, which had led to cancellations and postponements on landside transportation from Maersk’s providers.

Maersk said that its teams were working hard to clear the backlogs.

To assist in alleviating congestion, Maersk asked that clients pick up cargo from ports as quickly as possible and return full export containers as close to the cargo cut-off times as possible. For inland haulage, clients were asked to request a positioning date at least seven days prior to arrival, or as early as possible.

Meanwhile, Maersk also noted that mass Covid testing in Shanghai and Tianjin was continuing. New Covid cases had triggered additional mass testing events in China this month, including in the city of Tianjin, home to the largest port in Northern China, and the key economic hub of Shanghai.

Reporting indicates that the highly infectious BA.5 sub-variant was present in the greater China area, including Hong Kong, which was facing a Covid resurgence that was straining public hospitals. Port operations were continuing as normal, but Maersk said that the risk persisted that fresh outbreaks could trigger new lockdowns.

Over in the US, over the past month, shipped volumes have been steady compared to the previous month with imports into the East Coast continuing to remain stronger than the West Coast. This East Coast preference could possibly continue well into the third quarter of the year to reduce exposure to the potential risk of West Coast congestion and labour uncertainty given the ongoing ILWU/PMA negotiations.

ILWU members continue to work beyond expiration of contract: The coastwide contract between the ILWU and the PMA expired on July 1st. The PMA and ILWU issued a press release on July 1st advising that while there was no extension to the contract, cargo would continue to move through the ports as negotiations continue.