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Shipping lines cancel a quarter of sailings from China

In the pre and post-Chinese New Year (CNY) period, from 1st January to 17th February, Alphaliner has calculated that the three big carrier alliances plan to skip 27% of their originally scheduled Asia – Europe sailings.

In a normal year, there is an export rush from China, ahead of the New Year holidays, as orders are shipped before the factories close and production halts, but this year, with the absence of any export spike, container shipping lines across the three alliances have cut 15 westbound departures, with just 69 ships departing on a round-trip to North Europe or the Mediterranean between the 1st and 20th January. 

The shipping lines should have offered a total of 196 sailings from China to Europe and the Med, across the period 1st January to the 17th February, but Alphaliner reports that 53 of these planned voyages have been axed. 

Across the alliances; 2M is cutting 29% of their sailings in the first seven weeks of 2023, while the OCEAN Alliance has reduced westbound voyages by 23% and THE Alliance a whopping 36%.

This larger percentage is partly due to the fact that THE Alliance members are diverting North Europe to Asia backhaul sailings from the Suez Canal and around the Cape of Good Hope which adds two weeks transit and leads to later vessel arrivals back in China. 

The carriers blank sailings and extend transit times to reduce available capacity, to match lower cargo demand and support spot ocean freight rates, but these drastic reductions in capacity mean that vessels departing China are full, with carriers rolling containers to keep loading vessels while the factories remain closed.

We work closely with our partners in China to monitor which lines are rolling cargo, and use our agreements with the lines to protect our cargo, though expectations are that roll pools will be cleared through weeks five to eight.

EMAIL Colin Redman for more information, advice and guidance.