Suez Canal grounding: “We are not yet fully back to normal,” said Hapag-Lloyd chief executive
Hapag-Lloyd chief executive Rolf Habben Jansen held a press briefing to give a market update and outlook that also highlighted the impact of factors including the Suez Canal incident and congestion in ports.
Although the backlog of ships caused by the grounding of Ever Given in the Suez Canal was resolved “quite quickly, we are not yet fully back to normal,” Mr Habben Jansen told the press briefing.
The grounding of the Evergreen vessel in the Suez Canal led to queues of around 370 ships, which included nine Hapag-Lloyd vessels, stuck both north and southbound.
Mr Habben Jansen told the press briefing “The canal has done a really good job in getting traffic going again after 29 March and from our end, all our vessels passed through the canal by 1 April. We didn’t divert our own ships, as they were not in a position that made sense, but we but diverted six ships from our partners because their positions made sense.”
THE Alliance diverted three Far East vessels (HMM in FE2/3) and three Transpacific ships (YM/ONE in EC4/5) around the Cape Good Hope.
Mr Habben Jansen said the Suez Canal blockage had “quite some impact” on the global market situation of today. “The obstruction of the Suez Canal has major affects on our services to and from Far East–Mediterranean, Far East–North Europe, Transpacific (via Suez) and India,” he said in his presentation.
This comes on top of other challenges, including that productivity in many ports and on the land side are still impacted by Covid-19-related labour availability and restrictions.
Mr Habben Jansen said “Major congestion is currently in North America due to continuous high volumes and low productivity in the ports, and capacity constraints on rail and truck.” Currently 20+ ships are waiting outside the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach. There are also congestion issues in Oakland, Vancouver, New York and Savannah, he said.
Elsewhere, he said the situation in north Europe was critical, mainly at large ports like Rotterdam and Southampton. There was a “manageable delay in Germany while the Baltics and Scandinavia are not much affected”.
He added that Mediterranean ports only have slight congestion and the impact in India and the Middle East is expected to be moderate with some unavoidable omissions.
Looking at the outlook, he said in the US, a return to normal is expected for end of Q2, or early Q3.
In Europe, congestion issues will be significant in the next four weeks. “We expect that most services will miss one to two sailings which will impact available capacity in Q2. Return to normal is expected for Q3.”
Mr Habben Jansen said that box availability will be tight for the next six to eight weeks.
Hapag-Lloyd is taking four major measures to counteract the challenges: maximise container availability (including significant investment in additional reefer and dry boxes); Maximise ship availability and productivity; Speed up digitalisation (including additional investments in customer service and further automation) and intensify communication.
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