Shipping traffic to Russian ports plummets by 40%

10 March 2022

Vessel volumes to Russian ports have plummeted since sanctions were imposed on the country following the invasion of Ukraine.

The number of commercial vessels calling at Russian ports in the first six days of March was 40% lower than the same period last year, dropping to 120 vessels, according to maritime AI firm Windward. The company said it expected the figure to decline further. 

The news comes as major shipping freight companies including Maersk, CMA CGM and the Mediterranean Shipping Company announced they were halting all operations to and from Russia.

Windward said: “These past few days have been an emotional rollercoaster for the modern world. With the wounds of the pandemic just beginning to heal, many organisations feel confused and overwhelmed by the multifaceted consequences of this war on their operations in general, as well as their maritime domain.”

Winward continued: “As the conflict and restrictions continue to escalate, we are definitely expecting a significant decrease in foreign commercial operations in Russian ports. 

“Companies looking to protect themselves from financial and regulatory risk exposure will have to look not only at the vessel flag, but also at its ownership structure and recent owner changes.”

The UK and US have closed their ports to Russian vessels as part of sanctions posed on the country.

Port calls of Russian-flagged and Russian-owned vessels into the UK and US totalled more than 18,300 over the past year, Windward said.

Around 10 Russian oil and gas tankers have been shunned by UK ports following the UK’s ban on Russian shops, the Independent reported.

Air freight has also been “turned upside down” by the conflict, according to Clive Data Services.

Air freight capacity has shrunk with capacity between northeast Asia and Europe reducing by up to 22% in the last week, compared to the week before. Load factors have risen 1.5% and have now reached 84%, while rates have increased.

Niall van de Wouw, managing director of Clive Data Services, said: “The war in Ukraine is another example of an external event of which the air cargo industry has no control over, but which is having a profound impact, as happened with Covid.

“Whilst we were seeing some clear signs of normality returning, there is still so little slack in the global air cargo system. It is quite unlikely that the trend of slowly declining rates will continue in March. 

“The war in Ukraine caused immediate capacity issues to northeast Asia and, therefore, will likely push up rates even more for these particular markets. Air cargo trucking services might also be affected as numerous Ukrainian drivers – which form an important share of the truck drivers in Europe – have decided to go back to their home country.

“A fragile global air cargo supply chain is already sensitive to minor shocks. War in Europe and its resulting sanctions could turn the industry upside down once again, just at the time when the Covid impact was looking more under control. We remain in volatile and uncertain times.”

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