Life on Asia-Europe tradelanes: longer transits, fewer sailings, reduced capacity

4th April 2019

Further evidence that Asia-North Europe shippers now have fewer booking options and must live with longer transit times than ever before came from new Alphaliner analysis today.  

Notwithstanding a myriad of complaints from shippers relating to poor schedule reliability, blanked sailings and increased transhipment, the consultant’s data would appear to dispute yesterday’s assertion by the World Shipping Council that its members were offering “ better efficiencies, greater port connectivity and higher service levels”.  

According to Alphaliner research, in the past 10 years the number of weekly services on the route has fallen from 35 strings to 19, as the average size of the ships deployed has more than doubled in size, from a nominal capacity of 7,200 TEUs to 15,800 TEUs. From the end of this month, the three alliances will carry out major network changes as they slow their ships further to allow for the introduction of more newbuild ULCVs, as well as to mitigate the higher cost of fuel under the forthcoming IMO 2020 regulations.  

Alphaliner said that, due to the wider use of slow-steaming and the extended time necessary in ports to facilitate increased container exchanges per call, the average round trip for a vessel on the service had grown from 8.7 weeks to an astonishing high of 11.3 weeks. This month, 2M carriers Maersk Line and MSC will start to extend the duration of two of their six loops, the AE5/Albatross and the AE10/Silk services, to 91 days, or 13 weeks, the longest on the tradelane, which Alphaliner notes includes planned diversions for taking bunkers at the Russian Baltic port of Kaliningrad, adding over four days. ( Loadstar).