The severe drop in containership punctuality during the pandemic has been brought into sharp relief via a new report from Copenhagen-based consultants, Sea Intelligence.

Global schedule reliability dropped to just 35.8% last year, according to data published by Sea-Intelligence yesterday. All top 14 carriers suffered double-digit year-on-year declines to register record low levels of reliability at a time where liners are raking in more profits than at any time in the history of containerisation.

Evergreen recorded schedule reliability of under 20% last year

“Schedule reliability has been dismal for much of 2020 and all of 2021, as carriers have struggled to maintain schedule integrity, owing primarily to widespread port congestion,” Sea-Intelligence reported in its latest weekly report.

In each and every month in 2021, schedule reliability has been the poorest in that month compared to all previous years tracked by Sea-Intelligence, and the average delays for late vessel arrivals have been the highest they have been. Since August 2021, Sea-Intelligence’s metric of average delays has been above the seven-day mark, meaning that vessels that are getting late, which is nearly two-thirds of all vessel arrivals, are now on average more than a week late.

Maersk was the most reliable top 14 carrier in 2021 with schedule reliability of 46.4%, followed by Hamburg Süd on 40.9%. These were the only two carriers with schedule reliability of over 40%. Four carriers recorded schedule reliability of 30%-40%, whereas seven carriers recorded schedule reliability of 20%-30%. Only Evergreen recorded schedule reliability of under 20%.

Ocean schedule reliability formed much of the conversation at a box shipping market predictions webinar hosted by Flexport last week during which it was noted that total transit times are currently twice the historical average. Destination ports have up to five weeks worth of backlog, attendees to the Flexport webinar were told.

Looking ahead, Sea-Intelligence noted in its Sunday Spotlight report: “It does not seem that there will be any let-up capacity-wise during Chinese New Year, which means that the carriers are anticipating elevated demand levels to continue or are attempting to clear backlogs; in either case, port congestion does not look like it will ease up anytime soon, which means that schedule reliability will likely remain poor into 2022 as well.”

Soaring rate prices combined with dire schedule reliability have seen many shippers decide to charter in their own tonnage over the past months with one Chinese desk manufacturer just revealing plans to take matters a step further. Splash reported today Ningbo-based Loctek Ergonomic has ordered a 1,800 teu boxship from Huanghai Shipbuilding for a swift delivery in the first quarter next year.


Author: Sam Chambers