USA Import Update

This message is especially written with our USA import customers in mind.

You all already know there are significant issues moving cargo ex the USA presently. We are currently experiencing unprecedented events – major congestion, port issues, record number of vessels at anchor in and around West Coast ports.

The situation ex the West Coast is exasperated by the fact that there are very few vessels sailing ex Los Angeles into Auckland. This trade lane used to be well served with a weekly departure. This was changed to a fortnightly service mid 2020. The service remains advertised as a fortnightly, but in reality, the vessels are only sailing every 4 – 6 weeks. There have only been 13 vessels depart Los Angeles for New Zealand this entire year thus far. No vessels sailed for the month of August, and the increasing gaps between sailings add to a backlog of containers being stacked at Los Angeles ports and railhead. This means vessels are loading with more containers left behind at the port, and then adding to the overbooking of the next sailings.

Due to the severe backlog of loaded containers already located at Los Angeles/terminal for worldwide destinations, shipping lines have severely restricted / cancelled bookings to N.Z on the next 2-3 sailings, and new bookings are likely to be declined upon request. We have been notified, it is entirely possible that existing bookings will also be delayed further. Wee are also in a situation where bookings can and have been cancelled without notice, and as they are cancelled, we are required to start the full booking process again.

Please note the next direct sailing – JPO Libra 132 – has been further delayed, which likely means the sailings after this will go back further. The ship Lines have not yet confirmed that all bookings will be kept in place for this sailing. We are of course, checking on a daily basis for updates. Please also note all the current available shipping lines share space on the same vessel / service. There are no options at present to move cargo earlier or via different transits except airfreight.

We are advised by the ship lines as well the ports that they see no sign of improvement for at least the next 3-6 months.

Consequently, as a direct result Stellar has little option but to close all LCL bookings for the next two sailings ex the West Coast. The next available vessel for new bookings as follows;

London Express 136

Current ETD Los Angeles               6th November

Current ETA Auckland                    27th November

Please noter that this is the current advertised sailing date. On current performance, this ship will be delayed 4-6 weeks.

There are no alternative options presently. Transhipment carriers (sail to NZ via S.E Asia) have suspended bookings until the end of November at the earliest.

East Coast vessels remain overbooked, and truckers are also over capacity, but these have been weekly sailings with fewer delays and cargo is moving.

Some summarised points of interest to help convey the enormity of the USA problem.

  • Direct West Coast service to NZ has lost approximately 18,600 TEU of capacity this year due to ongoing congestion and delays
  • Los Angeles to Auckland vessels are sailing with increasingly longer gaps; only 13 departures from Los Angeles to Auckland this year.
  • Shipping Lines are advising approx. 400,000 TEU are loaded and pending at Los Angeles ports.
  • Record high number of container ships at anchor or drifting off the West Coast ports. Close to 70 ships at anchor off Los Angeles, close to 100 ships at anchor off West Coast in total
  • An estimated 500,000 containers are sitting on cargo ships pending berth and unloading. Some context to this number – the Port of Auckland in a normal year handles 1 million containers (import/export).
  • Truckers are frequently at the ports in queues for their maximum eight hours per day – without getting an empty or loaded container.

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