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Movements of Containers in Key Asian Markets Continue to be Impacted

A variety of factors continue impact on the movement of containers from key Asian markets.  Our Director Sales, Glenn Hall, gives this update.

Import containers continue to move to Australian ports at very high levels along with erratic vessel scheduling as outlined in our various newsletter.  Vessels being blanked due to coronavirus infections with crew members, OOCL suspending new bookings from South East Asia, restrictions on bookings to Sydney and the withdrawal of the YO-YO service for virtually all of 2020 has created a perfect storm for disruption

Trade statistics show that there has been increases of import TEU of 11.3% to 16.3% in August 2020 versus August 2019 . September figures have yet to be released however carriers indicate a 15% increase across all lanes on imports in September 2020 versus September 2019.

August 2019
August 2020
98,500 TEU
116,000 TEU
+ 16%

There has been an interesting increase in the movement of empty container exports, that is because carriers need to get containers back to origin urgently and on occasions without cargo so they can turn containers around more quickly on arrival to Asian ports.  

37% increase in empty container exports Aug 20 v Aug 19
30% increase      
29% increase

South East Asia (SEA)

SEA continues to be extremely impacted on by space issues. As mentioned OOCL had suspended new/fresh bookings but will start to take new bookings as of 8 October on their AAA1 and 2 service to Melbourne and Brisbane only.

At this point they have not resumed Sydney bookings.  However, they are reviewing the possibility of moving Sydney on their ASA service, that will be confirmed by early next week. Until then Sydney is a severely impacted destination.

All origins are being impacted on by space and also equipment availability as CMA-CGM and ANL continue to experience severe shortages globally on their 40ft equipment


North and South of China continues to experience space shortages that have been compounded by coronavirus events.  

The A3S service experienced issues when one of their rescue vessels, the MV Haris, deployed to reduce backlog was withdrawn after crew tested positive for COVID-19.  This has impacted on the OOCL Italy, OOCL Kuala Lumper and COSCO Felixstowe as bookings were transferred from the Haris

The A3C service has also been impacted on with crew from the Seamax Stratford being tested positive for Coronavirus while calling Brisbane. Seamax Stratford is expected to blank Xiamen, Shanghai and Ningbo. This is an 8,000 TEU vessel and will cause major issues if it cannot be replaced. The vessel operator OOCL advised they are hopeful they can replace the vessel and we hope to have updates by the end of the week.  If not, containers will need to be transferred to subsequent sailings resulting in roll-over of containers booked on those subsequent vessels.

ANL has been impacted on a cyber-attack effecting their systems globally, this has caused delays in releasing equipment at origin, bookings, delivery order release and other EDI transmissions that effect container loadings.  They are recovering and expect to back to normal over the next week.

Golden Week holidays finish tomorrow and there will be another surge of containers enter the ports as factories return to work and move their Peak season, Christmas stock into the market.

Zim Lines re-enter the market in the last half of October and will help relieve some of the space pressure with their 2500 TEU vessels.


Carriers continue to experience equipment shortages, CMA CGM and ANL continue to have ongoing shortages of 40GP and 40 HC and all other carriers are having issues with release of equipment at yards on a case by case basis.

It is very important that your suppliers are securing equipment from terminals as early as possible and it is imperative that they are checking the equipment they are receiving.  Equipment is being turned around as quickly as possible and that can mean some of the equipment may not be up to the normal standard of cleaning and quality.  Your suppliers trucking company must check for issues and raise them with our offices for us to address and remedy.

Detention Free periods

Shipping lines are desperately trying to turn their equipment around in Australia and get them back to origin ports to fill the shortfalls, so carriers are very strict on the application of free detention and where they may consider waivers they are not and are in fact reducing free time period to encourage return of equipment as quickly as possible.

Industrial Action

  • DP World: has reached an in principle EBA with the MUA so we should see limited disruption in their operations
  • Patrick: is currently in negotiation with the MUA and the current moratorium on industrial action is set to expire on 26 October. Industrial action could resume if there isn’t progress on an agreement in those negotiations.
  • Hutchinson: hasn’t started any EBA and hasn’t been as effected as the above terminals.
  • VICT: is set to start EBA discussions in the coming months and if the recent negotiations are anything to go by there could be disruption while the negotiations take place

Even with the reduced Industrial action vessel schedules will continue to be impacted throughout October due to the backlog in the ports.

OOCL (and other members) of the AAA1 and AAA2 ( South East Asia ) service use Patrick terminals, so that accounts for the absolute chaos with scheduling on those services.

A3C, N and S predominately uses DP World terminals, then Hutchinson and VICT and haven’t been as severely impacted by the industrial action

We will continue to update as this difficult period is set to continue through until the end of the year.

Glenn Hall
Direcor Sales
ACA International