Unlike blank sailings resulting from weak volumes, these are structured to repair broken schedules, said the report. When ships are delayed a week, the carrier will implement a 'structural' blank sailing to restore schedule integrity.
'The sailings are sliding. Other alliances will also see sailings slide,' said Hapag-Lloyd America's chief Uffee Ostergaard. Hapag-Lloyd is in THE Alliance with Ocean Network Express (ONE), Yang Ming, and HMM.
Mr Ostergaard blank sailings are caused by vessel bunching due to near-record cargo volumes congesting the Asia-North America trade. Import volumes exploded when the North American economy began to recover last summer following the lifting of initial Covid lockdowns.
Eastbound liner reliability from Asia to both US coasts was under 30 per cent for both coasts in December, according to Sea-Intelligence Maritime Analysis.
The worst congestion in the US has been at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with many ships delayed a week or more, according to the Marine Exchange of Southern California. Oakland and Vancouver have experienced much the same.
Lars Jensen, CEO of Copenhagen's SeaIntelligence Consulting, said although no other carrier or vessel-sharing alliance has announced structural blank sailings, he expects more coming.