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Freight forwarders sending goods out of Europe to Asia face one of the tightest capacity crunches in living memory over the next few weeks.
CMA CGM is set to blank 23 North Europe-Asia sailings from now until 2 June, after last week announcing three further deepsea sailings in the middle of this month had been cancelled, “due to recent demand slowdown in the context of the coronavirus situation”.
This month alone, 15 eastbound sailings will not take place as scheduled, and the line said the cancellations were affecting its north-south services that relay cargo across Mediterranean hubs.
“Please note that these blank sailings also affect space on our Med, North Africa, East Africa, Middle East, Oceania and India subcontinent trades,” it said.
As a result, it has today introduced an emergency space surcharge of €50 per 20ft and €100 per 40ft for all shipments from North Europe, UK and Scandinavian ports to all Mediterranean and North African ports.
The Loadstar understands that the French carrier has now declared the situation as a force majeure, and that the strategy of blanking sailings would likely continue “for the foreseeable future, pending the return to normalcy of trade with China, Chinese production facilities and other countries impacted by the outbreak”.
Meanwhile, the build-up of reefer boxes in Shanghai, appears to have worsened, according to Maersk.
It has expanded its $1,000 per reefer container congestion surcharge to include the neighbouring port of Ningbo, effective immediately, for cargo brought in on non-FMC trades, with a 22 March implementation date for FMC-governed trades.
“The plug shortage in Shanghai and Xingang has not improved in the latest weeks and, indeed, it has been worsening also in surrounding ports. For that reason, we will be expanding the scope of the congestion, adding also Ningbo,” it said in a customer advisory.
“We recommend customers, when possible, to ship to other Chinese destinations or other markets in order to avoid the congested ports. This recommendation is in particular for transit time-sensitive, perishable, chilled commodities with a limited/short shelf-life, eg fruit/vegetables and frozen meat,” it added.
The move comes despite a reported decision by Ningbo port to reduce its reefer tariff by 50% “until the end of the virus”.