Alliances tip hand on blank sailings

Vector illustration of a loaded container cargo ship passes under the bridge.

Shipping alliances show favourable treatment on blank sailings, according to new analysis.

Latest findings from Sea-Intelligence introduced a measure named ATBBS (average time between blank sailings) to identify the average number of weeks between a blank sailing on each respected alliance service.

As the graphic indicates, for Asia-North Europe 2M’s services, for example, AE5/Albatross and AE10/Silk were blanked once every 22-24 weeks (9-13 weeks in the last 12 months), whereas the AE55/Griffin and AE6/Lion were blanked every 7-8 weeks (5-6 weeks in the last 12 months).

For Ocean Alliance, where AEU2 and AEU6 were blanked minimally in the last 12 months, while AEU7, AEU9, and AEU1 were blanked every 5-7 weeks in the same time period.

THE Alliance services were all blanked frequently.

The analysis firm saw similar patterns across Asia-Mediterranean routes also.

READ: CMA CGM continues blank sailings on congested EUROSAL service

“Blank sailings have been traditionally used as a tactical tool to manage supply to bring it down in line with demand. Over the course of the pandemic, as demand plummeted, carriers resorted to blank sailings once again to ensure that vessels were not deployed empty. However, this was not the case across every alliance service,” wrote Alan Murphy, CEO, Sea-Intelligence.

“While the general understanding might be blank sailings are made across the board, the reality is that carriers favour certain services, either by virtue of choice and the value of cargo on board certain routes, by virtue of the ports that they call, or any other external factor.

“Having this information then serves as a very good guide for the shippers, as knowing which services are more likely to be blanked (should similar operational issues arise in the future) would help them limit the additional disruption to their supply chain.”

In December last year the firm found that blank sailings were on the increase in Asia – North America West Coast journeys as a result of ongoing congestion in ports and terminals.

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