Independent journal on economy and transport policy
CENTRO INTERNAZIONALE STUDI CONTAINERS
ANNO XXXVIII - Numero LUGLIO 2020
EUROPEAN EXPORTERS STILL UP AGAINST IT, BUT EQUIPMENT
SHORTAGES ARE EASING
Blank sailings, escalating freight rates and a shortage of
equipment continue to hobble European exporters.
Shippers to Asia and the US are facing lengthy delays and
uncertainty for container bookings as the knock-on effect of
short-notice carrier blanking programmes plays havoc with supply
As a consequence, rates have soared, particularly to Asia where
they have doubled in the past year, and in some instances are being
increased after containers have been delivered to the export quay.
And shippers are still struggling with equipment availability,
with shortages due to vessel schedule changes, which have resulted
in significant disruption to carrier container control systems.
One senior ocean carrier operations manager told The Loadstar
recently its systems were "in a state of chaos".
"We are spending a fortune on positioning equipment that
has come off at the wrong hub port, plus we are having to lease more
containers than we really need to to cover acute shortages in the
regions," he added.
However, according to the latest survey by online equipment
platform XChange, container availability in Europe is "on the
rise". In line with the reduction in the number of blank
sailings, XChange's Container Availability Index (CAx) recorded an
improving picture for European exporters.
"Containers are moving again," said XChange, "with
higher levels of equipment availability across European ports.
Containers are now being loaded and returned, though the industry is
still working on a lower heat than what we were used to before the
Nevertheless, it noted that "some ports and depots were
already filled with equipment" and the overstocking in some
hubs and depots would remain, "especially when we combine a
lower than usual level of demand with containers that are being
returned to depots".
And there is some good news for Hamburg shippers, from the CAx
report. In March the CAx was reporting equipment shortages at the
German hub port due to the impact of the original Chinese lockdown.
At the time the port's marketing division refuted the suggestion of
container shortages but conceded that carriers and their customers
"might run into temporary bottlenecks".
However, according to the latest CAx reading, container
availability in Hamburg is "increasing", especially for
standard 20 ft boxes with a value of 0.47 in week 29 increasing to
0.78 by week 31. A value is above 0.5 indicates a container surplus,
while a reading below 0.5 suggests a deficit of equipment.
And as an example of the unbalanced equipment situation around
Europe, the CAx reading for a standard 40 ft box in Genoa recorded
an availability of just 0.01, an indication of an acute shortage of
equipment in the region.
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