Container line reliability tumbles in 2014 as port congestion bites

Schedule reliability in the container sector dropped 7.6% in 2014 to 72.2% due to congestion in a number of major ports, according to SeaIntel data.

The labour dispute on the US West Coast has led to the worst congestion on record, which has been recently described as approaching “gridlock” at ports including Los Angeles and Long Beach, and was the most significant issue affecting carrier reliability.

Congestion also hit major European hubs during the summer months, including at Rotterdam where some ships were diverted to Antwerp due to the delays, as the deployment of ultra-large containerships in the 18,000 teu range hit terminal operators and landside infrastructure.

The impact of US West Coast congestion on the transpacific trades was a 17.5% drop in reliability to 62.3%. Asia-North Europe reliability was down 13.8% to 67.2% and Asia-Med was down from 73.9% in 2013 to 69.8% in 2014.

Only one of the top 20 container lines managed to increase its reliability in 2014, as CSAV edged up 0.8% compared to 2013, thanks to it not being involved in the transpacific trades. CSAV jumped 15 places in the reliability rankings to third, as even the mildest of reliability drops, those of first and second place Maersk Line and Hamburg Süd, saw performance fall 3.2% and 4.1% respectively. 

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