Carriers reduce blanked sailings


The slowing rate of announcements of additional blanked sailings indicates that carriers have now reached a point where they believe sufficient capacity has been removed from the market, according Sea-Intelligence.

“In recent weeks we have seen the level of blank sailings slow considerably on the main East-West trades, and a large number of previously blanked sailings have been re-activated,” the analyst said.

It added that 48 of 235 announced transpacific blank sailings had been re-activated, while the Asia-Europe trade had seen 18 of 189 scheduled blanked sailings being re-activated.

Only three new blank sailings announced on the transpacific and two on Asia-Europe routes in the past week.

New blank sailings announcements on the transpacific route have become sporadic, while carrier alliances continue to extend suspensions of already suspended services on Asia-Europe to maintain capacity.  

Even with the announced blankings, eastbound capacity on the transpacific for the coming 12 weeks is forecast to be up by 7.2% on the corresponding period last year, indicating increased volume demand.

“While we should caution that this could simply be a question of the carriers being too optimistic, or alternatively that they are planning to sail heavily underutilised for the peak season, this is likely not to be the case,” said Sea-Intelligence.

“Carriers have throughout the pandemic shown an incredible affinity for balancing supply to demand, to keep freight rates up. For now at least, it looks like we might actually have a 2020 transpacific peak season.”

The analyst cautioned that this was the slowdown in the number of new blanking announcements should not be viewed as a recovery on its own.

“Overshooting the target does not mean that there was never any target at all,” it said.

“This does not mean that demand has come back to normal — in fact global demand dropped 15.9% in April and 11.4% in May — but rather that the carriers seem satisfied with the level of blanked capacity already announced.

“As the markets continue to be in a depressed state, this level of blank sailings may yet become the new normal.”