Global Review – week 51, 2020 – 14 December 2020

As we begin another week, anyone looking out over the Auckland Harbour needs no reminding that cargo is so close yet still so far in many instances. The waterways are at gridlock as vessels remain anchored and wait for berth availability.

With no foreseeable quick fix in sight, coupled with Chinese New Year looming, we can only reiterate the importance of forward stock planning and advance bookings.

• Operations at Northport went slower than predicted (surprise, surprise) with the discharging of the vessel Contantinos P. Despite the vessel having berthed 4-days earlier truckers were only able to begin to uplift cargoes Friday morning (11th December) . The transfer of cargo will take a while (circa 2,600 individual journeys are required).
• We expect to see Auckland Metro container delays as trucking equipment is diverted North to Whangarei to haul the containers recently discharged South.
• Port congestion at Ports of Auckland remains high with no signs of relief or improvement.
• A slip on State Highway 3 at Uruti, Taranaki on Thursday forced road closures and expected delays of 48 hours for heavy transport into or out of the Taranaki region
• As the delays ex Asia continue, we strongly suggest to start thinking about shipments and ordering pre Christmas / New Year. Usually Chinese New Year festival period lasts for 16-days, starting from Chinese New Years eve to the lantern festival.
• In 2021 Chinese New Year is from February 11 to February 26th. There is likely to be continued (read: acute) pressure on both space and equipment for a fortnight proceeding an as well following this period. The earlier bookings are taken the more likely we are to secure target sailings.
• Container stocks (equipment of all sizes and variants – 20’s + 40’s) remain scarce across most regions with no reliable data indicating specific hot spots. Availability can change on a daily basis and is dependent on empties discharged from a previous vessel, so we often need to check daily.
• South East Asia services all tend to tranship in Singapore and Malaysia before the final legs to NZ via Australia. There are still bottleneck areas and can result in shipments being rolled for 1-2, sometimes 3 weeks. As different carriers stop accepting bookings from S.E Asia it will help to tackle the back logs and hopefully will result in improved transits and more reliable services. For now allowances still need to be made for delays.
• After months of issues and talks the terminals in all Australian ports are slowly recovering and productivity is improving.
• Shipping lines however are struggling to evacuate and reposition the container equipment imbalances, due to time constraints and port congestion.
• The continual port omissions and change of schedule rotation is impacting supply chain efforts, which creates a backlog of cargo. This needs to clear to enable a way forward and keep the vessels moving to schedule.
• Space on vessels departing in January already a offering limited space options, so please book early as demand far outweighs supply.
• Airfreight bookings have blown out to 2-week delays despite additional charter flights having been deployed.
• There continues to be issues and back logs at UK ports (in particular Felixstowe – which handles 40% of containers through UK). Congestion, seasonal demand, port closures due to fog and a looming Customs system shutdown due to Brexit looms)
• Issues with space on services ex Europe to New Zealand continue with both Hamburg Sud as well Maersk suspending bookings during this time. Other service options available are via Asia transhipment hubs meaning delays are almost inevitable
• Port congestion is an issue to varying degrees in North American ports
• Due to congestion here in NZ, some shiplines have made the decision to omit Auckland on alternate sailings over the next few weeks on their Los Angeles to Auckland schedule. This has severely limited the number of options for US importers requiring cargoes pre Christmas. All bookings on each omitting vessel will be rolled to the next sailing.
• USA is currently experiencing trucking shortages due to increased volumes of import containers into the USA. The shortage of available drivers coupled with equipment availability issues at inland ports, are hampering the loading of export containers and delays are being experienced.
• East Coasts shipment seem to be flowing better than those routed thru the West Coast.
• Airfreight space remains very tight coupled with limited options.

The Stellar team thanks you all for your continued support and understanding in these unprecedented times. Please do not hesitate to be in contact with us for any issues or urgent movements. We are here to assist and will continue to do all we can to assist.

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