Peak Covid-19 impact on container shipping might already be here, Sea Intelligence says

Danish data analyst and consultancy Sea-Intelligence has said that, in terms of the number of blank sailing, it believes the container shipping market has reached peak impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sea-Intelligence data revealed that the Asia-North Europe trade lane suffered 38% cancelled capacity in the week to April 18th. The consultancy anticipated that the other deep-sea trades were reaching peak impact. The Mediterranean to North America East Coast lane had 33% blank capacity in week 19, while the Asia to East Coast South America suffered 59% blank capacity in week 20.

Sea-Intelligence CEO Alan Murphy said that “the problem is that the large amount of blank sailings makes it difficult to also manage the empty flows. In the coming six to eight weeks we could very well see a period where the export cargo and empty flow combined exceeds the total capacity available in the market. Historically this has led the carriers to favour empty container evacuation and curb booking intake, with rising freight rates as a result”.

Blank sailings and Covid-19-related delays in cargo operations have impacted schedule reliability. For Q1 Sea-Intelligence said that this was 67.9% in container trade, with the global average delay for late vessel arrivals at their highest in any quarter since Q1 2015, when there was a labour dispute on the US West Coast.