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Impact of Covid-19 on Box Shipping ‘Growing, But Slowing’

2nd March 2020
Asian-Europe trade where an operator Overseas Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) recently responded to the expected low demand in the market. AFLOAT also adds in our photo of the G-Glass leadship OOCL Hong Kong (21,413 TEU capacity) when built in 2017 was the largest in the world, is seen above berthed at the Port of Felixstowe in the UK. Currently the giant vessel is in the Mediterranean Sea on a voyage from Europe bound for Asia, having yesterday departed Piraeus, Greece. Asian-Europe trade where an operator Overseas Orient Overseas Container Line (OOCL) recently responded to the expected low demand in the market. AFLOAT also adds in our photo of the G-Glass leadship OOCL Hong Kong (21,413 TEU capacity) when built in 2017 was the largest in the world, is seen above berthed at the Port of Felixstowe in the UK. Currently the giant vessel is in the Mediterranean Sea on a voyage from Europe bound for Asia, having yesterday departed Piraeus, Greece. Photo: Jehan Ashmore

The impact of the Covid-19 virus outbreak, Lloyd'sLoadingList reports, on container shipping continues to grow, but at a slower pace, according to container shipping consultancy Sea-Intelligence.

Sea-Intelligence CEO Alan Murphy pointed out that the organisation’s 23 February weekly analytical report had estimated a Covid-19 global “demand downfall” of 1.7 million twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU), whereas the updated figures of its 1 March report, which reflects the latest blank sailings, now estimate the volume loss at 1.9 million TEU.

At a rough average freight rate of 1,000 US$ per TEU, this equals a revenue loss of US$1.9 billion for the carriers, Sea-Intelligence noted.

Sea-Intelligence figures indicate that the number of blank sailings in weeks 5-15 of 2020 on the transpacific has increased to 111, of which 48 have been blanked due to Covid-19, and the remainder due to ‘normal’ Chinese New Year capacity management. On Asia-Europe, the number of blank sailings has increased to 75, of which 29 are due to Covid-19, Sea-Intelligence said.

“From a more positive angle, we appear to be seeing a stabilisation,” Murphy observed. “Even though the carriers have announced seven more blank sailings over the past week, which corresponds to an additional 7% removal of capacity, the pace of new blank sailings has clearly declined, suggesting a belief from the carriers that volumes will slowly be brought back to normal levels.”

For more on these developments click here. 

An example of the Covid-19 impact on the Asia-Northern Europe trade market AFLOAT adds is operator OOCL (see photo) which recently has a service update on such operations.

Published in Ports & Shipping
Jehan Ashmore

About The Author

Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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