Container ship lines and freight forwarders have been keeping minimal business operations through the first week of February and possibly further into the month as China’s major coastal provinces extend holidays due to the outbreak of 2019-nCoV. The slowdown in freight activity is prompting major ocean carriers to cancel sailings during this period and beyond.
Container lines had already cancelled a number of Asia-Europe sailings in response to the expected slowdown. The Drewry World Container Index for Shanghai-Rotterdam was down about 10% at the end of January from a peak earlier in the month.
Platts Global Container Weekly Commentary said that, typically, demand would not return for ex-Asia front hauls until the start of March, but the latest developments point to an even longer recovery time”.