Date: 18.08.2020

Interruptions emerge at Felixstowe Port

Felixstowe is experiencing very high volumes of containers throughput as hauliers are booked up from most of next week, reporting on poor loading times quay side, suggesting potential labour issues and an impact of new processes.

The Port of Felixstowe is Britain’s biggest and busiest container port, handling more than 4 million TEUs each year with most shipping lines having an involvement with their vessels calling there. It cannot be avoided on many trade lanes.

Hauliers have reported on loading delays and diversions throughout the day with no clear pattern. Unfortunately, signs remerge that the port is struggling to cope with demands of feeder vessels, road and rail and inland infrastructure.

The potential for delays is due to the combination of summer holiday labour shortage and the beginning of peak season. It is important to note that the port is still working with reduced labour levels, given they are 20% down YTD and will try to manage until Q4. 

The consequences of the above over recent weeks have been that vessels have diverted to other ports. As an example The MSC operated vessel Catherine C was redirected over recent days from Felixstowe to London Gateway. This implies major issues with handling capacity and with the possibility of further diversions if issues continue. This creates further issues due to containers being collected from one port but needing restitution to another, potential additional costs as hauliers have to reposition equipment to other ports, or simply higher haulage dependent on final delivery point of container to importers warehouses. In addition with vessels almost completely full on the westbound trade this situation has potential to further develop over coming weeks and months.

Felixstowe port are not denying situation. They merely suggest that there is very high demand at present against the peak in their holiday season with situation likely to continue until the end of August.

Metro will continue to be transparent, offer guidance and recommendations and be agile with our solutions to avoid or minimise the current disruption. We have increased our rail operations to evacuate containers away from congested ports through to rail heads and inland container depots working locally with transport partners to ensure reliable consistent service is achieved. For further details, information and market updates please contact Ian Barnes our commercial director who is leading the charge !