COVID-19 the pandemic that came into the limelight in December 2019 has now spread to every country around the world. This has caused major economic and social disruptions with far reaching impacts on global supply chains.
One of the key issues is the impact COVID-19 is having on port calls and particularly, the issue of blank sailings.
Ocean Insights (OI) has counted 386 blank sailing announcements that will take place between mid-March until the end of April 2020.
Ocean carriers have responded by replacing large volume vessels with smaller volume vessels to adjust to the lower trade volumes.
This is reflected in measured Vessel Capacity (in TEU) across major carriers which is especially strong in the Asian trade lanes with a 23% detected decrease from mid-January to mid-March.
In comparison, the global decline is less acute with a 7% decrease from a peak of 16.8m TEU capacity in mid-January to a low of 15.5m TEU measured capacity.
Total TEU capacity across major carriers:
Total TEU capacity of active container vessels:
The OI system has detected an “unusually high” number of blank sailings. To assist the supply chain community, the OI team has put together the entire blank sailing list and is providing the same free of charge. This is essential as it will enable the industry to plan their shipping requirements. The updated list is available at https://mailchi.mp/ocean-insights.com/blank-sailing-updates.
Trends in port performance
The tracking covers Average Port Call Duration (i.e. time spent by a vessel in the port area), Aver-age Transshipment Duration (i.e. time between the arrival of a tracked container in port and de-parture on another vessel) and Rollover Ratio (i.e. the percentage of containers that leave the re-spective port on a different vessel than originally planned). As per recent investigations, there has been no significant trend in the performance of the ports. However, there was a huge drop in the number of port calls around Chinese Lunar new year (which is normal), followed by an unusually slow upward trend there, consistent with the also observed lower volume of container traffic out of China/East Asia.
Some of the most tracked non-direct connections in the OI system have taken longer than usual in recent weeks but there is no significant visible trend.
From the graphs it is apparent that a noticeable decrease in the number of voyages at the end of 2019 due to Chinese New Year, followed by further declines after the outbreak of Coronavirus – COVID-19.
It was also observed that the relative number of voyage schedule changes increase slightly com-pared to the number of voyages as the crisis unfolds (see closing gap between blue and yellow lines).
But this is not over yet because even as China is recovering, the rest of the world that buys from China appears to be buckling under the impact of COVID-19.
Sea News Feature, March 27