Sea freight – Delays, space and other predicaments…

This year has certainly presented some challenges for us all.

The following is a sea freight shipping update, we hope it offers some insights into the current situaton.

With a worldwide reduction of airfreight capacity, consignees and shippers are using sea freight services more than before.

This year has seen and is still seeing an unprecedented peak season, with space out of China, Europe and Asia very difficult to get, often waiting weeks for bookings. From some ports, shipping lines have stopped taking bookings for NZ altogether. Cosco are predicting that this could carry on through to Chinese new year.

Shipping services coming to NZ are often reliant on the Australian market. Shipping lines tend to bundle NZ and Australia together. Presently the ports in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane are having industrial action. This is having a flow on affect to New Zealand in a few ways;
– Shipping lines are charging congestion surcharges into and out of Australia.
– Some shipping lines are no longer accepting bookings to Australia.
– Some shipping lines are omitting certain Australian Ports.
– All shipping lines going into and out of these ports are suffering delays because of the industrial action.

In conjunction with this, the Port of Auckland (POAL) is having severe delays for the last six weeks, due to a fatality that was suffered there on 30th August 2020. This fatality and the subsequent events and staffing challenges faced by the POAL has caused and is still causing on going delays to vessel arrivals and container availability. While vessels were suffering delays at POAL, the arrivals for other NZ ports also suffered. Some vessel operators omitted other NZ ports and offloaded the containers elsewhere, such as the Port of Tauranga (POT).

The Port of Tauranga and Kiwirail have been unable to cope with the increase in volumes at the terminal. This week POT put an embargo on export containers lasting two days. Today POT has reported the following challenges;

• Too many import containers sitting too long at Metroport, there are 60 x 40 foot containers that have been sitting for more than 7 days.
• Potentially unsafe working environment at Metroport because of volume.
• Tauranga hit highest capacity last week and boxes over stack height.
• Ship disruptions; off-window and bunching of vessel arrivals.
• Cut-offs not being adjusted by shipping lines.
• It will take another couple of weeks to sort import congestion.

All of these factors are causing delays frustration for the NZ market.

With this situation at the moment, while shipping lines are starting to stop calling Australia, we are facing uncertainty here in NZ and how this will affect our shipping services.

Today we have asked for comment from Hamburg Sud, Maersk and OOCL after receiving information that these lines are not accepting bookings from Europe to either Australia or New Zealand. Hamburg Sud have indicated that this is due to extreme congestion at their transshipment hub, they are waiting for confirmation from their European trade.
OOCL have suspended bookings to NZ from Europe and Asia due to backlog of containers waiting transshipment in Singapore.

If you have an urgent sea freight shipments, please contact us so we can discuss the options available, Contact us