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Container line blank sailings surge for Golden Week period

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The number of blank sailings by container lines during China’s Golden Week has surged sharply according to analysts Sea-Intelligence.

Despite concerns that shipping lines were failing to act ahead of the seasonal lull around the week-long Chinese Golden Week holidays the number of cancelled voyages has now risen steeply.

At the end of August Sea-Intelligence had warned that carriers had cut just 3% of capacity during the four-week period that comprises Golden Week itself and the three weeks that follow. This compared to a 12.9% in capacity reduction in the last pre-pandemic year of 2019.

As Seatrade Maritime News reported last week the two largest lines MSC and Maersk had announced cancellation of 11 and five services respectively during the Golden Week period.

However, in the last two weeks lines have announced an additional 29 blank sailings. In recent years lines have become increasingly dymanic in their use of blank sailings announcing cancellations much closer to the voyage date than in the past.

Sea-Intelligence said that carriers were now on track to blank capacity at similar levels to 2019 and the 2017 – 2019 average.

“For Asia – North Europe capacity reductions now exceed previous years. The percentage of blanked capacity on Asia-North Europe, across the four-week period, is now at 19.9%, which is the higher than the 2017-2019 period,” said Alan Murphy CEO of Sea-Intelligence.