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Red Sea diversions hit container line schedule reliability

Photo: AdobeStock An overhead shot of containerships in port
The Red Sea crisis and vessel diversions via the Cape of Good Hope impacted container line schedule reliability in December 2023.

Overall, 2023 had seen a marked improvement in container line schedule reliability following the disruption caused to the supply chain during the Covid pandemic.

However, the latest Global Liner Report from analysts Sea-Intelligence showed a 5 percentage points drop in schedule reliability from over 60 across some 34 different trades. Schedule reliability dropped to 56.8% in December 2023, the second lowest level seen in the year and just 0.4% higher than December 2022.

The drop in schedule reliability coincided with the onset of attacks by Houthi rebels in Yemen on ships passing through the southern Red Sea. As a result container lines started to reroute vessels away from the Red Sea and the Suez Canal on Asia – Europe voyages adding 10 days to two weeks to transit times to European and Med ports from Asia, and vice-versa, disrupting fixed day schedules.

Sea-Intelligence noted that due diversions via the Cape late arrivals were 0.3 days month-on-month at 5.35 days.

According to Lynerlytica one in three containerships that normally transits the Red Sea/Suez Canal continues to sail through the region despite the heightened security risk.

Among top container lines CMA CGM has retained the Red Sea/Suez routing for its Asia – Europe/Med services receiving French naval escorts. According to Lynerlytica only its US East Coast - Asia and Oceania services are currently re-routed via the Cape.

CMA CGM was the second most reliable carrier in December 2023 according to Sea-Intelligence and only one of two lines above the 60% schedule reliability mark. The most reliable line was Evergreen with 63.6%.