Although the follow-on effects of last month’s Suez Canal blockage have worsened and prolonged problems of equipment availability, tight capacity, and schedule reliability ‘in an already very constrained market’, they have not led to a catastrophic congestion crisis.
When talking about the knock-on effects currently of container ship Ever Given blocking the channel at the end of last month, Geodis’ senior vice president for global ocean freight Matthias Hansen said equipment availability, tight capacity, and schedule reliability have taken a further turn for the worse ‘in an already very constrained market where less than 35% of ships arrive on time’.
However, he played down reports that ocean carriers are discharging container imports delayed by the Suez incident wherever they can in North Europe as they scramble to return vessels to Asia as soon as possible with empty boxes.
“The majority of the carriers have unloaded the containers in accordance with the booking,” Hansen said, with only “a very few isolated cases” where the boxes of Geodis’ customers had been discharged in the ‘wrong’ port.”
Empties get priority
Hansen accepted that in some cases empties were being given priority by lines over European export freight. Lloydsloadinglist.com quoted him as saying: “The repositioning of empty boxes to Asia has the highest priority, as East-West freight rates bring in the highest income for the carriers. This leads to the fact that certain urgent (export) cargo flows are interrupted or will not be accepted by carriers, leading to equipment shortages becoming an issue in Europe.”
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