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Shippers May See Further Container Carrier Unreliability into 2021

It was nice to think that “2020” was somehow the cause of all our problems, but reality tends to have a sobering effect. Covid-19 being named for the previous year did nothing to stop it from rampaging all throughout 2020, so why wouldn’t it continue in 2021?

With all the strain of the holiday season placed on the already stressed shipping industry from a year’s worth of increased port congestion, staff and equipment shortages, and skyrocketing e-commerce demand, issues were bound to arise. And so, they did.

Record Low Carrier Reliability in Recent Months

US imports from Asia were at record highs in 2020: totaling 16.6 million TEUs, up 4.1% year-over-year. But the record breaking did not stop in 2020. The beginning of 2021 also saw US imports from Asia drastically rising with a growth of 14% YOY. This surge extended the shipping season peak to our running total of over seven months.

There don’t seem to be any real signs of slowing as shippers are still attempting to recover from the havoc of the holidays, the coronavirus, and continued blank sailings.

These record-highs played a large role in the record-lows of container availability. December’s global liner schedule reliability fell to 44.6%, down 76.3% YOY. Average delays for vessels have dramatically gone up with increases in blank sailings due to the high rates being offered by desperate Asian exporters in need of empty containers to meet the surge in US demand. Many carriers are making more off empty containers than filled, thus refusing cargo from US exporters.

This has drawn the attention of regulators, but nothing concrete has yet to come.

Covid-19 Impacts Continue for Shipping Industry

Pandemics and economies are intrinsically linked, and they are both notoriously difficult to forecast.

The hopeful expectation for things in the shipping world to subside as the holiday season ran its course with the closing of the Chinese New Year, has proved naive. Covid continues to wreak havoc on the health of the world’s population and their economies and the global supply chain continues to experience strain due to the gushing demand for not only retail products but also medical equipment and PPE.

With port congestions and container availability continuing to be an issue, managing a supply chain has become more of a headache than ever before. Why take this task on yourself when you can have a trusted logistics partner handle the day to day for you. Contact the experts at ClearFreight to hear how we can simplify your supply chain and make your life a little easier.



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