Poor outlook 2023 due to large number of Blank Sailings

In the trade between Asia and Europe, some 226,000 TEU will be withdrawn from service in the 4 weeks before Chinese New Year, the percentage of Blank Sailings is thus 715% higher than this period in 2019, according to Norwegian Xeneta. Such a huge reduction in container capacity bodes ill for the rest of 2023, according to Xeneta. In a “normal year” there would be almost no disruptions ahead of the Chinese New Year, Xeneta chief analyst Peter Sand said. “As shippers have built up stocks, this year is different,” Sand said. “This is a worrying development for shipping companies and no doubt it does not bode well for the year ahead.”

A year ago, the number of TEUs withdrawn was about twice as high, but Sand said this was entirely in exceptional circumstances, with the supply chain still completely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The analyst said that last year the new corona virus and congestion crippled container liner shipping, where now this is purely lower volumes and lower rates causing shipping lines to have little interest in the new year. As the Chinese New Year approaches, there are also many Blank Sailings in the Asia America west coast route (220,489 TEU) and the Asia America east coast route (140,000 TEU).

Maersk is pleased to report that it is using vessel capacity freed up by lower market demand to improve service reliability, particularly on 2M’s (Maersk and MSC) transatlantic services. In particular, the TA1 route (Antwerp/Rotterdam/Bremerhaven/Norfolk/Charleston/Houston) and the TA3 route (Antwerp/Rotterdam/Bremerhaven/Newark/Charleston/Veracruz/Altamira/New Orleans/Mobile/Freeport). “The major disruptions of the pandemic are behind us, but 2023 will bring new challenges,” Maersk said. In addition, Maersk said it is taking the opportunity not only to move ships in difficult market conditions, but also to speed up shipping, save fuel and reduce emissions.