Blank Sailings hit 435, but container freight rates hold firm

Blank Sailings hit 435

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According to Sea Intelligence data, while the count of blank sailings hit 435 amid COVID-19, container freight rates manage to remain firm.

Sea Intelligence is a leading consultancy that provides market analysis and advisory services within the shipping industry. The consultancy has recently analyzed the ongoing status of blank sailings and container freight rates.

The data of this analysis has revealed a 7 million TEU demand decline in the first quarter of 2020, as the number of blank sailings in lockdown rises to 435 on multiple deep-sea trades. The container volumes have been estimated to have dropped by 13%, the significant effects of which are already visible on global ports, especially the ports on the American West Coast.

According to Alan Murphy, the CEO of SeaIntel, despite this demand dropping and oil price collapsing, the China Containerized Freight Index (CCFI), this year, is higher than that of last year’s same period rate index by 11%. He also mentioned that whatever drop the overall index has had since the Chinese Lunar New Year has been per normal seasonality.

Different approaches to blank sailings by three major alliances

  • 2M Alliance: It foresees the blank sailings to go quite far in the future, typically until Q2 ends, with a few additional blank sailings depending on the circumstances of that time.
  • THE Alliance: Similar to the 2M alliance, it envisions void sailings ranging to the end of Q2 and then a few additional blank sailings based on the situation.
  • Ocean Alliance: It expects blank sailings to last for a comparatively shorter period, typically within the former part of Q2. The prediction of SeaIntel about shelved sailings of Ocean Alliance is, however, different, as it expects more blank sailings from this alliance in the second quarter.

Their approaches can be apprehended better with the following example of these alliances’ blank sailings on the transpacific in different weeks.

  • In Week 15-21: Some 17-24% blank sailings in all the three alliances.
  • In Week 22-27: Around 19-21% blank sailings in the 2M and THE alliance, and 6% in Ocean Alliance.

According to SeaIntel, the figures of blank sailings are likely to descend in 2021, with gradual growth in demand.

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