Weekly Update – 29.10.2021

Weekly Update – 29.10.2021
October 29, 2021 Hannah Marshallsay

Vessel delays continue and schedule reliability remains low for Sea Freight services. The Port of Felixstowe refuses empty containers once again and handling problems at Heathrow create delays to Air Freight shipments.

Severe Sea Freight Delays Continue

There is significant disruption at sea ports across Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, along with congestion at US, EU and UK ports. Market demand continues to exceed supply and the availability of space is being made worse by equipment shortages along with very congested ports the world over. These factors are having a knock-on effect to schedule reliability. Shipping lines are limiting booking acceptance as a result and with continuous vessel delays, schedule reliability is very low, and rates remain high.

At origin, the level of disruption caused by the misplacement of empty equipment along with very congested ports and reduced productivity resulting from ongoing Covid-19 outbreaks has resulted in delays of up to six weeks across Asia and the Indian Sub-Continent.

European ports remain heavily congested due to port staff and HGV driver shortages. These factors have resulted in full inland terminals which are unable to accept new arrivals and an increasing number of ship diversions resulting in booking cancellations, due to the last-minute decisions by carriers to skip ports. 

The strong peak season Christmas demand from retailers in both the US and Europe means that unfortunately there is unlikely to be any improvement to the port congestion and equipment availability imminently. As a result we expect schedule reliability to continue to be low for the months ahead.

Closures at Port of Felixstowe Resume

In the UK, the port of Felixstowe is experiencing congestion with increasing numbers of ships waiting to berth, dwell time remains significantly higher than usual. Some vessels are being redirected to other European ports before returning to Felixstowe with slower discharge times, which is having a knock-on effect on delivery times after arrival. 

Due to the high volume of containers on the terminal, once again this week empty 40 ft containers are being shut out of the port in an effort to clear the congestion backlog. This will continue where the port will use cycles of refusing empty container restitution as a tool for managing congestion as we continue through peak season.

Handling Problems Create Air Freight Delays

Air freight services continue to be hampered by staff shortages at Heathrow in processing the volume of cargo arriving, resulting in poor service and handling delays. We are experiencing cargo waiting at the airport for a number of days before being discharged and customers should be aware that their cargo is unfortunately likely to incur delays. We are monitoring the situation ongoing, however the lack of staff at the airport means that the information we are receiving is limited. We will continue to update customers on a daily basis if a delivery has been affected by these delays.

Availability of space remains tight and will continue to be pressurised over the coming weeks driven by demand for the Christmas retail season, as such air freight rates remain high. 

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