Shipping lines make radical CNY capacity adjustments

By Paul Kelly in Uncategorized Posted: 25th, January, 2023

In normal times we are accustomed to a spike in sea freight volumes ahead of Chinese New Year (CNY) and the container shipping lines ‘blanking’ a few sailings in the quieter weeks following the two-week CNY holidays, together with some cargo rolling, to fill ships post-CNY. But these are not normal times…

This year the pre-CNY spike failed to materialise and the lines anticipating slack demand despatched 20% fewer ships from Asia to North Europe and the Mediterranean, to try and keep them full, between the 1st and 20th January.

Under normal circumstances, the shipping lines’ 18 Far East – North Europe and ten Far East – Med loops should have offered a total of 196 sailings from 1st January to the 17th February, but Alphaliner reports that 53 of these planned voyages have been axed (equivalent to 27% of planned sailings) and this number could increase if the carriers blank further sailings after the CNY holidays, which began on the 21st January.

Across the alliances; 2M is cutting 29% of their sailings in the first seven weeks of 2023, while the OCEAN Alliance has reduced westbound voyages by 23% and THE Alliance a whopping 36%.

This larger percentage is partly due to the fact that THEA members are diverting North Europe to Asia backhaul sailings from the Suez Canal and around the Cape of Good Hope which adds two weeks transit and leads to later vessel arrivals back in China.

The carriers blank sailings and extend transit times to reduce available capacity, to match lower cargo demand and support spot ocean freight rates, but these drastic reductions in capacity mean that vessels departing China are full, with carriers rolling containers in favour of contracted boxes.

Our local offices are reporting that lines across the three alliances are rolling cargo for post-CNY sailings, with some boxes missing multiple sailings, though expectations are that the lines’ roll pools will be cleared through weeks five to eight.

We are aware that many NVO services are offering particularly low rates and while these prices may be attractive to unwary shippers, it is these low-value boxes that are most likely to be rolled by the shipping lines.

We leverage our groups’ $Billion buying power across the lines, to secure space for our customers, at the best rates and ship as booked – without being rolled. EMAIL us to learn more.

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