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Container shipping blank sailings taper off on subsiding impact of coronavirus

The number of new blank sailings of container shipping has started to taper off amid the impact of the coronavirus, a sign that carriers can expect demand ramping up back to normal levels over the next few weeks, according to analyst Sea-Intelligence.

Sea-Intelligence data indicated that the weekly measurement of carriers’ blank sailings out of China show that the coronavirus impact is now subsiding.

“The bulk of the blank sailings were announced during weeks 7 (10 February) and 8. Weeks 9 and 10 have seen a clear tapering off in terms of new blank sailings, and the level of new announcements of blank sailings is back to the normal level,” said Alan Murphy, ceo of Sea-Intelligence.

The number of blank sailings was recorded at 47, 70, 77 and 83 in weeks 7, 8, 9, and 10, respectively. The number for week 6 was 24.

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Consequently, back haul freight rates have begun to increase as carriers increasingly favour empty repositioning for the limited back haul sailings. This is in order to get into position to capture what is expected to be a peak in Chinese exports in the medium term future.

“It could well be expected that back haul rates will be pushed even higher,” Murphy said.

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