Dear valued customer,
Because of the unexpected event of the Corona virus, maritime transport is under high pressure worldwide. In coming weeks there will be a major impact on availability of empty containers and available space on vessels.
The extended Chinese Holiday period due to the Corona virus (for 6 weeks now) forced carriers to implement a high number of blank sailings (= cancelled sailings) from the Far East. Carriers need to take this drastic measure because it’s financially not viable to return from Asia without any cargo. Because of the vessels not returning to Europe, carriers can’t reposition their container equipment.
At the same time a high number of containers is blocked on terminals in China waiting for importing companies to resume work.
Taking into account that China is the biggest economy worldwide, this is resulting in a huge stress on the availability of empty containers in Europe.
Blank sailings also mean that no vessels are sailing from Europe in the next weeks because they are still stuck in Asia. The vessels used for the trade between Europe and Far East also carry containers for other destinations such as India & Pakistan, Middle East, East Africa, West Africa, … These vessels unload containers in transshipment ports on their way to the Far East, so they can be transported to their final destination by connecting vessels.
As a result, containers need to be transported on direct services. The capacity of the direct services is not sufficient to cover the total demand in the market.
This is resulting in a huge stress on the availability of space on the vessels.
All container import and export during the month of March will be seriously impacted. The market in Europe will face a substantial reduction of capacity.
In this context, some carriers have announced Peak Season Surcharges or other increases on various trades worldwide.
The outbreak of the Corona virus falls under the definition of force majeure. This means that any additional costs caused by the virus should not be borne by the freight forwarder. This also includes detention, demurrage and storage charges. (We refer to the Belgian Freight Forwarders Standard Trading Conditions)
For more detailed information, please contact our Commercial team.