It is not the blanking of sailings by container lines that has reduced capacity and is driving the current high freight rates. According to Alan Murphy, CEO of analyst firm Sea-Intelligence, this is pure myth.
Blank sailings during Chinese New Year are normal
In a “normal” year, carriers would announce several blank sailings in conjunction with Chinese New Year (CNY) to adjust supply to lower container shipping demand as factories close over the Lunar New Year holiday.
Shippers have to plan their capacity management for CNY – less than 6 weeks remaining
However, 2020 was anything but normal, and there does not appear to be a consistent forecast on the impact of CNY on production in 2021. Given these uncertainties, shippers are likely having a difficult time planning their capacity management for CNY 2021, but with less than 6 weeks remaining, the clock is ticking.
Only 5 empty sailings announced yet
As of Friday, January 1, 2021, and six weeks before CNY, carriers have announced only 5 empty sailings on the Trans-Pacific and 7 on the Asia-Europe route during the three-week Chinese New Year period (weeks 7-9). This compares to 88 empty sailings in 2020 (73 if you subtract those announced due to the Corona virus) and 67 in 2019. For 2021, this translates into a planned capacity reduction of 2-4% in Trans-Pacific and 6-13% in Asia-Europe.
It is not possible to predict the optimal level of blank sailings
“It is not possible to predict the optimal level of blank sailings, but it is clear that the carriers are currently scheduled to blank far less than in previous years, and if they are to reach the level of previous years, a raft of blank sailings would have to be announced very soon,” says Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence.
Read the full and very interesting analysis in the complete press release from Sea-Intelligence.
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