Freight News, Sea

Ports lose third of container capacity during 2021

[ March 10, 2022   //   ]

Research by MDS Transmodal (MDST), commissioned by Global Shippers Forum (GSF), has found that global ports lost over a third of their expected container capacity during 2021.

It led to delays and disruption for shippers and harmed the economies of some smaller developing nations, said the report.

Capacity was lost either due to ports being skipped, or the entire service blanked by the shipping line.

The ports of Colombo (Sri Lanka) and Piraeus (Greece) were especially hard hit, with about 40% of expected container capacity failing to arrive in the last quarter of 2021, in comparison with a pre-Covid level of between 15-20%. Felixstowe and Jebel Ali (UAE) failed to see around a third of their expected capacity, it added.

Port Klang (Malaysia) suffered a 40% shortfall and Melbourne (Australia) and Tauranga (New Zealand) were down by around a third of the expected container capacity during the second half of 2021. In 2019, average no-shows at these ports were only 10-15% of expected capacity.

MDST’s Antonella Teodoro said that carriers have been reducing both scheduled capacity offered to some ports and also reduced the actual capacity provided.

Most of the expected vessels would have already been full with containers collected at ports called at earlier on the service.

GSF director James Hookham  said: “Skipped port calls have multiple effects on shippers. They create local upward pressure on shipping rates, as shipping line agents ‘auction-off’ available slots on the vessels that do call. Shippers also face unexpected surcharges for the handling and storage of delayed containers.

“More pernicious is the wider effect on national economies, especially those of developing nations that lose opportunity to deliver their exports, and hinder the recovery of their economy from the effects of lockdowns and Covid restrictions”

He added that ports reliant on calls from vessels on Asia-Europe strings have suffered especially badly, saying: “Such schedule alterations translate into huge aggregate capacities lost to importers and exporters.”

He concludes, “Skipped ports and blanked sailings have evidently become central to the way shipping lines are managing the capacity of their heavily utilized fleets. As the pressures caused by the Covid-19 pandemic ease GSF will be monitoring the restoration of service predictability for shippers at these and other key global ports to ensure the benefits of service reliability and frequency promised by consortia and alliance operations are reinstated.”

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