Equipment shortages hit shippers
The large number of blanked sailings leaves containers piling up in China. While European and US shippers struggle to find equipment and have to pay more for using it
Despite signs the Chinese supply chain is starting to move again, equipment shortages are set to remain for some time
SHIPPERS and cargo owners in the US and Europe are facing a shortage of empty containers as a result of carriers’ blanking sailings because of lower volumes emanating from China.
Container repositioning service provider Containers xChange said that based on carrier statements and its own Container Availability Index, the trend was expected to continue and worsen for shippers.
The index, which forecasts supply and demand in containers for many large port locations, shows that compared with 2019, containers are piling up in China, increasing by almost 50% for a comparable week last year.
“Usually, it is the other way around, but now we have a deficit of containers in North America and Europe, index values for Hamburg, Germany dropped by 33%,” Containers xChange said.
“For Los Angeles, it is even worse and the forecast says it will not get better soon.”
As a result of the blank sailings, non-vessel owning operators have been forced to hold empty equipment longer than usual, incurring more detention and demurrage charges, chassis fees and repositioning costs, in addition to possible interchange fees.
Additional surcharges and costs include peak season surcharges, container imbalance surcharges, congestion surcharges and general rate increases.
But there are some signs the supply chain out of China may be beginning to move again.
In its latest customer advisory on the impact of coronavirus, French carrier CMA CGM said it was seeing signs of improvement in China.
“Manufacturing activities are gradually picking up, more port workers and truck drivers are returning to their posts, and cargo flow is easing up at the major coastal ports,” CMA CGM said.
“In short, business operations have now entered the recovery phase.”