Shippers shocked by scale and speed of blanked sailing announcements

Carriers are rushing through blanked sailing announcements on a scale and speed never seen before, giving shippers very little chance to make alternative plans.

Last week, the carriers had blanked two sailings due to the pandemic spread. As of Sunday, this had increased to 45 blank sailings, according to data carried in the latest report from Copenhagen-based Sea-Intelligence Consulting.

2M partners MSC and Maersk are leading the way, cancelling 21% of Asia-Europe capacity in Q2.

“We would expect THE Alliance and Ocean Alliance to follow suit with substantial blank sailings in the coming period,” analysts at Sea-Intelligence predicted in their Sunday Spotlight report.

It is not just the scale of the blanked sailings, but the speed with which they are being announced that is expected to create supply chain troubles for many clients.

“Typically, shippers’ supply chains are fairly resilient if a 3-4 week notice is given… That carriers now cancel multiple service with very short notice should therefore be seen as a clear indication of just how quickly demand is dropping, due to the pandemic shutdown of major parts of the global economy,” Sea-Intelligence noted.

UK-based Maritime Strategies International (MSI) has given its own take on the plunging box volumes in a report issued last Thursday.

“There seems little doubt that containerized trade will shrink in 2020, with near-term rates of decline potentially approximating — or even exceeding — those seen during the financial crisis,” MSI said.

MSI is predicting that box volumes from March to May will fall 17.8% year-on-year on the Asia-Europe route, 15% on the transpacific (US west coast) route and 13% on the transpacific (US east coast) route.

The falls in volumes will also be felt on regional tradelanes from March through to May, MSI warned with the Asia-Middle East-India route predicted to drop 12%, Asia-Latin America down 10%, intra-Europe down 8% and intra-Asia falling 5%.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.


  1. Why would shippers be shocked? After all, it is the rapid cancellation of orders from the shippers themselves which is prompting the mass-blanking of services

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