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Container ships remain heavily delayed

Fewer ships are lying in wait outside major ports on the US west coast, but the container industry remains affected by extensive delays. According to Alphaliner, there’s been no improvement since November.

Although queues have shortened in recent weeks, container ships remain heavily delayed the world over. According to Alphaliner, there have been no signs of improvement since November, when the analyst firm last zoomed in on the situation. And the delays thereby continue to be a ”significant problem” on routes from Asia to northern Europe and from China to California. For several months now, the container market has been seeing major bottlenecks, not least of all on the US west coast, where an entire 109 box ships were waiting off the ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles on Jan. 9, according to Alphaliner.

Since then, the queue has been brought down to ”just” 76 ships in the start of this week. However, transit on average takes 38 days for a container vessel sailing from the Far East to the two large western US ports, writes Alphaliner. That’s worse than the 28 days measured back in November. ”Once again, our data shows that carriers with good terminal arrangements in Los Angeles or Long Beach can bypass the waiting queues,” writes Alphaliner. The situation is reportedly unchanged for delays on a full round trip from the Far East to northern Europe. Ships in the 14,000-24,000-teu class on average take 17 days longer to arrive in central China before their next westward journey than stipulated by pro forma sailing plans. ”[Skipping] ports calls still appears to be the only way to avoid or limit lengthy delays. Vessels that stick to pro forma schedules are experiencing the biggest delays,” notes Alphaliner. The major bottlenecks have sent schedule reliability plunging in the container industry. According to Sea-Intelligence, reliability in 2021 ended up at 35.8 percent, meaning that 64.2 percent of ships called at ports later than planned last year. It was the lowest measured reliability since the analyst firm began its coverage in 2011. Sea-Intelligence most recently assessed that the number of ships on the route from Asia to the US west coast looks set to increase markedly in the coming months, which will put further pressure on supply chains.

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