Date: 12.05.2021

The Suez impact and even more carrier surcharges

European container ports survive the post-blockage Suez surge, but container equipment is out of position and remains scarce.

Europe’s container terminals have been struggling to handle increased import volumes since Q3 2020.

Keeping recurring congestion at bay has been their biggest challenge through 2021 and it appears that the closure of the Suez Canal only made the situation at Europe’s hubs slightly worse than it already was. So from ‘bad to slightly worse’ is almost a positive against the anticipated fallout of the event.

At Rotterdam, the increase in incoming containers was most pronounced, with box numbers rising 3.8% week on week, while Antwerp reported an increase of 3.5% and Hamburg 2.2%.

While the container ports may have sailed through the Suez surge (so far), the lines have decided to mark the incident’s fallout, with Maersk announcing a “Suez incident congestion surcharge” of $12 to $30 per container applicable from the 4th May to the 30th June – with the caveat that it may be extended if North Europe port congestion does not improve.

The surcharge applies to main gateway ports in Europe and inland intermodal transport for both import and export cargo, while Hapag-Lloyd has announced a $30 per container congestion surcharge for all inland cargo transported to and from the German ports of Hamburg, Bremerhaven, and Wilhelmshaven. 

Obtaining export equipment continues to be a challenge in many areas, with shipping lines prioritising the movement of empty containers back to China as fast as possible, which is why we urge you to give as much notice as possible of your forthcoming export booking requirements. With visibility we can plan and manage cargo flows and your expectations and forecasts are as important as ever in the current global logistics market, affecting all modes of movement.

While the closure of the Suez Canal following the Ever Given grounding held up cargoes for six days, the longer term recovery of vessel schedules is likely to be felt for at least another month, and the repositioning of impacted ships and empty equipment, which has come on top of this period of extraordinary disruption in the supply chain, could take an additional two to three months to resolve.

The ripple effect of the Suez situation will be felt for some time, so we will continue to monitor developments, sharing breaking news and reliable data, to update our clients on transit and schedule changes. This is all in addition to an already challenging situation which has been ongoing for the last 12 months and adds another layer of complication and challenge.

For further information and detail please contact Grant Liddell or your account manager, who can give you the most recent updates and help plan your container movements in the current challenging market.