Currently space especially to the U.S. West Coast has opened up and you are able to book over allocation. Space to the U.S. East Coast and Gulf region is also opening up more and more.
However, carriers will continue to blank sailings. The U.S. East Coast is starting to get hit with multiple blank sailings. Some services are starting to be bi-weekly, meaning there are only two sailings instead of four on the particular string.
Carriers are using blanking strategies to counter falling demand and “protect profitability”, reports project44. It notes the increasing trend of carriers to divert vessels to “more profitable” routes leaving some network trades as “‘ghost” services so there are no ships assigned
Blank sailings hits hard
The blanking of sailings is disruptive, even if there is a fixed space plan with the carrier, if there was an agreement for 10 x 40-foot containers per week, when it blanks, carriers won’t necessarily allow for the ten to be made up so that 20 containers are moved the following week.
This means shippers can easily fall behind in production due to warehouse space issues. Ultimately, they could be forced to stop production if they have no more room at the factory to keep the goods.
Drewry’s cancelled sailings tracker reports that across the trades of Trans-Pacific, Trans-Atlantic and Asia-North Europe & Mediterranean, 100 cancelled sailings have been announced between weeks 31 (week ending 7 August) and 35 (week ending 4 September), out of a total of 756 scheduled sailings. This represents a 13% cancellation rate on sailings. During this period, 68% of the blank sailings will be occurring in the Trans-Pacific Eastbound trade.
Over the next five weeks, 2M has announced 30 cancellations, followed by THE Alliance and Ocean Alliance with 25 and 21 cancellations, respectively.
Shortage of ships worldwide
Around one in ten containerships were non-operational in May due to delays and bottlenecks in supply chains and ports, according to Sea-Intelligence.
Container ships are delayed on average 6.2 days. Consequently, there are insufficient container ships to operate all regular liner services.
According to Alphaliner, fourteen deep sea liner services are missing half (or more) of the number of ships required to guarantee a fixed weekly sailing frequency.
The analyst notes that five loops are missing all their ships and could be called ‘temporarily suspended’.
Although alternatives in the form of extra ad hoc calls on other loops or deploying numerous ships with flexible routings have been provided, this has undermined regularity.
Alphaliner reports a total of 270,100 TEU ‘extra-sailers’ are deployed between the Asia-North America corridor.
The additional flexibility has been detrimental to consistency. Global schedule reliability seems to continue to follow the trend seen in 2021 with schedule reliability fluctuating within a small range but at a slightly lower base.
Global schedule reliability was recorded at 40% in June.