Shipping freight delays not set to ease 'for some time'

14 January 2022

Shipping giant Maersk has warned ongoing port delays mean supply chain strains will “continue for some time”.

The company said the pandemic was “still going strong” with dwell times for ships in North America reaching up to 45 days.

In an advisory the company said: “2021 proved a challenging year for global supply chains, seeing significant disruption and bottlenecks around the world. We saw pockets of improvements, only to get setbacks when terminals or vessels encountered a Covid-19 outbreak.

“Unfortunately, 2022 has not started off as we had hoped. The pandemic is still going strong and unfortunately, we are seeing new outbreaks impacting our ability to move cargo. General sickness remains high as key ports in key regions are seeing new Covid-19 peaks.”

It continued: “We do foresee the strain to continue for some time still.”

Dwell times at Long Beach in California range between 38-45 days, driven by labour and HGV driver shortages, while waiting times at the Port of Los Angeles reached up to 28 days in the past week.

Felixstowe in the UK witnessed the longest waiting times in Europe, with dwell times of up to 10 days. This is down from more than 20 days in October, according to data company Project44.

Felixstowe’s dwell times were double those of Antwerp’s 2-4 days, the port with second highest delays in Europe.

Maersk said: “While the numbers are far from optimal, we are pleased to see areas of developments. The Port of Antwerp had up to 10 days' wait last week and this week the numbers could be down to two days. 

“Ongoing contingency plans will always be made with the objective of minimising supply chain delays and we ask that you bear with us while we manage the overall situation as best as we can.”

The shipping company said it was working closely with port authorities to alleviate the situation. 

Opening substitute container depots, slowing down sea transit to ensure minimal queuing, and moving cargo through alternative modes are all being explored to reduce dwell times, it said. 

Meanwhile, the Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) has overtaken Maersk as the world’s largest shipping line by container capacity, according to data from the shipping analytics firm Alphaliner. 

The data found MSC now owns or charters enough ships to carry the equivalent of 4,286,815 shipping containers, ahead of Maersk’s total of 4,275,542.

Maersk had held the title of the world’s largest shipping container company for the past decade. 

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