Alliance carriers need to add three ships per loop to sustain weekly frequency and maintain schedule integrity on the Asia-North Europe corridor, Alphaliner analysis showed.

After assessing the completion of round-trip voyages between 1 May and 15 May, Alphaliner noted that ships on Asia-North Europe loops arrived back in China, on average 20 days late compared with their proforma schedules. “Most of the time is lost in North Europe, awaiting an available berth at the major ports,” said Alphaliner. This forces carriers to blank some sailings as there is no ship available.

High yard densities at Northern European container terminals and inland transport bottlenecks are worsening port congestion problems on the trade between Far East and North Europe. The time needed to discharge and load at Europe’s three biggest container ports – Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg, was a total of 36 days between arrival at Rotterdam and departure from Hamburg. Alphaliner said, “Such delays cannot be caught up by sailing Eastbound at full speed.”

Ocean Alliance was closest to schedule reliability, with an average delay of 17 days for its loops. Next was 2M, with an average delay of 19 days. THE Alliance carriers recorded the worst performance, with an average delay of 32 days (see Figure 1). The consultant said THE Alliance carriers’ vessels saw the longest delays because “they rigorously stick to their schedules without skipping any ports”.

A spokesman for one carrier pointed to the lack of port labor and a shortage of haulage which has increased dwell times of import containers in Europe.

“As the big terminals get choked up with boxes, ships have to wait at anchorage,” said Alphaliner. The company warned that surge of Chinese exports after lockdowns are lifted “could add unwanted extra pressure on the North European port and terminal systems again this summer”.

Source: Alphaliner