As China continues to be under lockdown, Carriers increase Blank Sailings

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Over the coming weeks, more than a third of the sailings from Asia will be blanked by ocean carrier alliances, according to the latest Project44 report.

In order to mitigate the impact of the Covid lockdown, alliance members are implementing blanking strategies, which will further extend cargo lead times, especially to North Europe. 

Based on the data from the supply chain platform, THE Alliance, Ocean Alliance and the 2M alliance will cancel 33% and 37% of their scheduled sailings from Asia, respectively, between weeks 17 to 23. 

In response to a challenging market environment, Maersk Line announced on Friday that the 18,340 TEU Mathilde Maersk sailing that was scheduled in early June will be cancelled. Rotterdam, Bremen, and Gdansk are the locations the Silk/AE10 service calls in North Europe. 

The Alliance2M will blank more sailings in the coming weeks than any other alliance, Project44 stated. 

Data from Project44 reveals that the dwell time for imports at the port of Shanghai peaked at nearly 16 days in April, but the dwell time for exports remained “relatively stable, at around three days”.

A shortage of truckers was to blame for the inflated import dwell time. As a result of a drastic reduction in export cargo to the port, fewer containers can be shipped out of Shanghai, reducing dwell times for exports.”

Nonetheless, ocean carriers have completed the discharge of their empty equipment in Shanghai to prepare for the surge of cargo that will follow the passing of the Covid lockdown, affecting 25 million people living in the city.

Maersk today reported that the reefer cargo yard density at Shanghai had substantially increased. The company added that it will resume accepting bookings for Shanghai from 26 June.

According to the report, warehouse operations have partially resumed in Shanghai, but the Ningbo warehouses are under strict health codes and are not open yet.

In the last fourteen days, drivers who were in high- or medium-risk areas will not be allowed to carry cargo, it warned.

However, as a result of the continued disruption of export cargo in China, and the cancellation of sailings resulting therefrom, the lead times for cargo from Asia to North Europe continue to grow, with the UK seeing the worst effects of the port rationalization strategies employed by the carriers.

Lead times from China to North Europe and the UK have increased by 20% and 27%, respectively, according to Project44 data.

This confirms the complaint made to The Loadstar by a UK forwarder who claimed that cargo headed to Felixstowe, Southampton, and London Gateway has been dumped at other ports on the continent without any proper plan to reroute them. 

Despite Maersk sending two containers from Asia to Europe on the same vessel, another forwarder criticized its service, citing two containers stranded at different European ports for more than a month.