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Felixstowe congestion, surcharges and spreads

Import volumes at Felixstowe have been 30% higher than usual in recent weeks and with port efficiency significantly diminished by the COVID crisis, disruption to vessel loading, yard operations and road/rail connections has followed.

The terminal-wide congestion means that some vessels have been unable to complete empty or export container loading, while others have diverted to Southampton or London Gateway, to safeguard schedules.

The congestion which has been building for weeks, means that vehicle booking slots have been reduced and even not being issued, with the restitution of empty containers also impacted.

Maersk and OOCL have warned of delays discharging containers from vessels and longer turnaround times for trucks, as well as import containers missing rail connections.

Currently the backlog of haulage demand at Felixstowe is approaching two weeks, which has prompted Cosco to suspend line haulage operations across the UK, while CMA CGM is diverting restitution to London Gateway.

We work continuously to find solutions and alternative options.

In another development this week CMA CGM became the first line to announce a Felixstowe Port Congestion Surcharge. See detail below.

The Port of Felixstowe apologised to customers last Friday for the “inconvenience” of the current congestion and stated that it was taking measures to improve service levels, which included increasing its vehicle booking system availability to more than 4,300 vehicles a day.

We have yet to see any improvement, with booking slots still substantially reduced and even the biggest operators receiving less than 50% of their usual allocation.

With merchant haulage already overstretched, the additional pressures of demand in switching to Southampton and London Gateway is likely to lead to disruption as these hubs struggle to cope with the additional volumes from Felixstowe.

We are monitoring the situation across all ports and will continue to work closely with our customers to find solutions and alternative options, as appropriate.

Text of CMA CGM announcement

Congestion surcharge Port of Felixstowe export & import cargo

Due to a combination of factors including:
– Significant increase in import container arrivals
- Reduced terminal productivity due to COVID safe-working practices and the deep
cleaning required at each shift changeover
- Reduced driver availability in the container sector

The operational costs have significantly increased in the terminal of Felixstowe over the past weeks.

In this respect, CMA CGM wishes to advise customers that a Port Congestion Surcharge of USD 150 per TEU (both standard and reefer containers) will be introduced for all containers arriving/departing Felixstowe.

Dates of application: October 1st (date of loading) until further notice