While everyone is breathing a sigh of relief that the grounded vessel has been refloated and Suez traffic is moving again, there is much concern about the impacts on shipping in the near and intermediate-term.
Over 350 vessels were stuck in line at the canal and it will now take about a week to clear that backlog. There were also numerous vessels that diverted and are en route via the South African Cape of Good Hope route with significant delays in ETAs. This will result in some serious port congestion when these ships start making ports in Europe and the U.S. Most of the traffic is bound for Europe.
The ripple effect will also result in a further reduction of empty container availability all over the world which will compound the problems for multiple trade lanes which are already dealing with congestion and equipment availability issues.
Maersk Lines is indicating a possible reduction in shipping capacity of "20 to 30 percent for weeks to come." MSC, another of the world's largest carriers, has announced over 3 dozen vessels, including some in the 2M Alliance with Maersk, were delayed in the canal plus a number of others that were diverted. This will result in a "constriction of capacity, adding continued pressure on shipping and port networks well into the second quarter."
All this is another illustration of the fragility of the supply chain and will require further flexibility and contingency planning, both in the short term and future strategies. Please be assured of our continued efforts to provide information to help and dig for innovative and creative solutions to keep cargo moving under these difficult circumstances. It's been a long difficult battle with the global pandemic and now the Suez blockage, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.