LA-LB congestion wreaks more havoc on liner schedule reliability

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Ongoing congestion at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach continued to hurt the schedule of reliability of carriers calling the largest port complex in the Americas last month, according to SeaIntel Maritime Analysis’ latest Global Liner Performance Report.

Trans-Pacific eastbound schedule reliability dropped 3 percentage points from September to October to a performance of 58 percent, SeaIntel said. In the westbound direction, reliability fell 1 percentage point to 71 percent.

“It is important to note, that we cannot with certainty conclude that the significant declines in schedule reliability on trade lanes calling Los Angeles and Long Beach are caused by the congestion in the port complex, but it is our assumption that the decrease in on-time performance is clearly linked to the on-going congestion,” said Alan Murphy, chief operations officer and partner in SeaIntel, in a statement.

Although cargo volumes are somewhat lighter now as the trans-Pacific trade enters a seasonal slack period, slowdowns by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union continue to plague U.S. West Coast ports, and terminal operators have not been able to reduce backlogs. Vessels continued to be directed to anchor in Southern California over the Thanksgiving weekend.

The congestion also had a “severe” impact on schedule reliability in the Oceania-North America trade lane, hurting refrigerated shipments in particular, Morten Berg Thomsen, a shipping analyst at SeaIntel, told JOC.com. In the past three months, reliability declined 26 percentage points in the southbound route to a record low performance of 68 percent in October, while container delivery from July to October decreased 37.5 percentage points to a record low of 50.5 percent. In the northbound direction, reliability dropped more than 20 percentage points to a record low level of 68.9 percent, while container delivery fell almost 12 percentage points in the past few months.

The performances of individual carriers in the trade lanes show that Hapag-Lloyd, Hamburg Süd, Mediterranean Shipping Co., ANL and U.S. Lines in particular saw considerable drops in their performances in October, while Maersk Line and CMA CGM were affected to a lesser degree, Berg Thomsen said.

Despite continuing congestion issues in the U.S., overall global schedule reliability increased in October, improving from 73.1 percent in September to 74.6 percent in October. Global schedule reliability in September was based on 11,164 vessel arrivals.

Data from INTTRA shows that the timeliness of container delivery ― a measure of on-time delivery of containers ― increased too, as the measure improved by 2.4 percentage points to 64.2 percent in October, based on nearly 3.4 million containers.

SeaIntel’s global ranking of the Top 20 carriers shows that Maersk Line, Hamburg Süd and CSAV were the three most reliable Top 20 carriers in October, just as they were in September and August, with performances of 87.2 percent, 85.7 percent and 84.7 percent, respectively.

From a North European perspective, October was a relatively good month as congestion eased in the main hubs in the region. For example, congestion was so bad at three deep-water terminals in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, this summer that Hapag-Lloyd diverted multiple voyages on one of its Asia-Europe services to Antwerp, while other carriers introduced congestion surcharges.

However, as a result of easing congestion in Europe, schedule reliability in the trade lane between Asia and North Europe improved by 11 percentage points to 76 percent from September to October, according to SeaIntel. The increase in schedule reliability was reflected across all the carriers engaged in the trade lane.–Joc.com

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