77% of shipping businesses used charter flights for crew change due to pandemic - survey

Photo: ATPI Marine & Energy ATPI.JochemHemink.jpg
Jochem Hemink, head of sales shipping Europe and Asia at ATPI Marine & Energy.
As Covid-19 border and travel restrictions decimated commercial aviation flight schedules some 77% of shipping businesses turned to charter flights for crew change, according to a survey by travel specialist ATPI Marine & Energy.

Research conducted by ATPI Marine Energy among participants at the CrewConnect 2020 virtual event showed that 90% of shipping businesses were rethinking the way crew changes were conducted.

In terms of the logistics around crew change there was a huge shift towards the use of charter flights, something rarely seen in the movement of seafarers prior to 2020. Some 77% of shipping business representatives surveyed said that they had made used of charter flights in 2020 for crew change.

Looking into plans for 2021 over a third of respondents were considering the use of charter flights either independently or through industry collaborations.

“During the height of the first wave of the pandemic in 2020, ATPI Marine & Energy worked hand-in-hand with industry associations to operate charter flights to reduce the number of seafarers stranded at sea for long periods of time, outside contracts,” said Jochem Hemink, head of sales shipping Europe and Asia at ATPI Marine & Energy.

“Significant repatriation efforts at a previously unthinkable scale are now part of the day to day fabric of our industry when it comes to ensuring crew can safely join vessels and return home again. For shipping businesses this means changing how crew rotations are planned and tackled, ever increasing costs, and developing new areas of expertise.”

Not surprisingly the survey also found costs for crew change had increased since March 2020. Of those survey 32% expect crew change to costs 20 – 40% more this year, while 28% believe costs will increase by 10 – 20%.

There is also shift in terms of locations to conduct crew changes with 55% of respondents moving exchanges to ports classified as “easy” in terms of restrictions.

“Almost two-thirds of the shipping businesses we talked to are seeing a spiralling mix of increased costs and less time in which to deliver crew changes. Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) are having to submit additional reporting on the costs of crewing and travel as businesses look to find efficiencies,” Hemink said.

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