The nice graphs here show that ocean carrier schedule reliability is extremely low, hovering between 30 and 40%.
The COVID years of 2020 and 2021 have seen a remarkable drop from the 70% to 80% reliability of 2018 and 2019. Is COVID likely the culprit? To some extent the disruption it triggered caused order fluctuation that the ocean carriers with their very large ships were not prepared for. The ensuing port congestion coupled with the practice of blanking sailings of the very large ships when they were not nearly full caused the drop.
I don’t see how a service with a 30% to 40% reliability can maintain itself. The ocean carriers say that back to normal demand will fix the problem, but the fact is that demand for instance from Asia to the West Coast US is actually still below peaks of 2019. So normal demand would be higher, not lower.
Vessel schedule reliability lowest on record
27 January 2022
Port Technology International Team
This article tells the tale of Zim, the Israeli ocean liner firm, which features Asia to West Coast US routes. The article tells a lot about Zim’s business focus, and its status.
Apparently they earned over a billion dollars, while blanking sailings on some routes as much as 67%. On the ZX2 route, Zim only sailed 9 out of 27 times, blanking the other 18. On the ZX3 route, half the sailings were blanked.
How can you make more money by not sailing as often? Try making the customer wait for the product!
Greg Miller, Senior Editor Follow on TwitterWednesday, November 17, 2021
Liner shipping alliances were created years ago when there wasn’t enough containerized cargo for many competing ocean container carriers (sometimes called liners). They have evolved through time, a bit, but still allow several ocean carriers to band together to serve a particular route.
For instance, from Shanghai to LA and return, an alliance might provide weekly service. The companies then rotate in providing that ship for the service. If you book with one of thecompanies, you don’t know whose ship will be carrying the cargo, but it will be one of the members of the alliance. If everything goes smoothly and there are no delays, it should notmatter to the shipper whose ship they are on.
But when disruptions occur, as now, and ships don’t sail on schedule either because they are postponed by the line, or because of congestion in either the loading port or the unloading port, it becomes a problem.
The article outlines some of the complaints. Alliances have to be authorized by the specific counbtry they dock in. There is actually a bill in the US Congress to suggest that the FMC (Federal Maritime Commission) be given stronger powers to investigate problems and push the alliances to provide fair service to all customers.