Carrier schedule reliability improves for first time in two years

With growing congestion in Shanghai, recent improvements in timetable reliability could be at risk (file photo from Shanghai)

Posted on March 30, 2022 1:51 PM by

The Maritime Executive

After a prolonged decline, container carrier schedule reliability showed the first significant improvement since the start of the pandemic. While nearly two-thirds of all container ships are still overdue, reliability has returned to levels not seen since mid-2021. The number of days behind schedule remains high, however, and experts warn that improvements could be short-lived as backups are being built rapidly at Chinese ports.

“This is the first significant month-to-month improvement in schedule reliability since March 2020,” said Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence, a research, analytics and consulting firm for the shipping industry. The results were contained in the company’s monthly Global Liner Performance report, which covers schedule reliability on 34 different trade lanes and more than 60 carriers.

Container carriers’ global schedule reliability improved by 4.0 percentage points between January and February 2022, reaching 34.4%. In February 2022, the schedule reliability score was only slightly lower than February 2021. It returned to the levels seen in the spring and fall of 2021 before a precipitous year-end decline in which schedule reliability timetables reached the lowest level worldwide in 11 years Sea-Intelligence has measured the performance of carriers.

While overall reliability improved in February, among the 14 largest carriers, eight saw year-over-year declines ranging from 9% for MSC to a 26% decline for Wan Hai. Maersk remains at the top of the list with a 9% improvement in reliability reaching 47.8%, followed by Hamburg Süd with 42.4%. Only MSC, CMA CGM and ZIM had schedule reliability between 30 and 40%, with nine carriers recording schedule reliability below 30%. Only HMM is seeing a month-over-month decline in schedule reliability, with Evergreen seeing the biggest month-over-month improvement.

“That said, delays are now over seven days since August 2021 and continue to be the highest monthly on record,” Murphy noted. The delay of overdue ships also improved month-on-month by around three-quarters of a day, but remained at 7.11 days in February 2022 and more than a year ago.

The Sea-Intelligence data is confirmed by individual ports that have experienced a decline in their arrears. The Marine Exchange of Southern California reported yesterday that the number of container ships waiting for mooring space in Los Angeles and Long Beach has more than halved since the peak in early January. In recent days it has remained fairly constant at just over 40 container ships compared to 109 in January. The Port of Los Angeles highlighted similar progress by reporting that its 30-day rolling average is just 3.2 days of average berth wait time.

China, however, where the supply chain begins, is seeing dramatic increases in its backlog after areas in Shenzhen had new COVID-related restrictions earlier in 2022 and even before districts in Shanghai began lockdowns. mandatory 5 days this week. VesselsValue reported a nearly five-fold increase in the number of vessels waiting off Shanghai just ahead of the lockdown that further shuttered warehouses and manufacturing and restricted truck movements this week. Their data shows that the number of ships awaiting loading or unloading in Shanghai has increased over the past two and a half weeks to more than 300 ships of all types, from a previous record of less than 200 ships.

Shanghai Port officials continue to emphasize that the port remains open and operational. The city’s most recent reports, however, show a significant rise in the number of positive COVID tests, raising the prospect that closures will be extended for the city of nearly 26 million people and home to the busiest container port. in the world. Carriers including CMA CGM and Maersk are already warning customers of rising costs and delays and have begun to adjust schedules as more key ports in China experience growing backlogs and productivity declines.