Blank sailings decline as 2023 Golden Week approaches

Blank sailings decline as 2023 Golden Week approaches

According to Sea-Intelligence, carriers have resorted to blank sailings as the Chinese National Holiday known as Golden Week approaches.

This is reportedly being done as a result of significant drop in demand.

© Sea-Intelligence

However, according to Sea-Intelligence, no substantial capacity cutbacks have been reported by airlines this year.

When reviewing the current combined transpacific capacity reductions for the four-week Golden Week period (Golden Week plus the following three weeks), Sea-Intelligence witnessed that carriers have scheduled capacity reductions of only 3 per cent, compared to a 12.4 per cent reduction in 2019 and a 10 per cent reduction from 2017 to 2019.

Individually, 3.7 per cent is slated to be taken out on the Asia-North America West Coast and 2.2 per cent on the Asia-North America East Coast; both amounts are the lowest in comparison to pre-pandemic years.

READ: Blank sailings decay: THE Alliance skips 36 per cent of voyages

Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence, said: “If we are to compare the current percentage reductions and bring them to the pre-pandemic levels, then to match 2019, 10-13 additional sailings will need to blanked on Transpacific and 6-10 additional sailings on Asia-Europe.”

Murphy added: “With Golden Week only five weeks away, there is not much time left, if carriers want to announce more blank sailings, because the closer they do it to Golden Week, the less time there is for shippers to plan exception handling, and there is already a lot of discontent among the shippers due to the freight rates and lack of promised vessel allocation in the past couple of years.”

Furthermore, with sluggish peak season demand, it might be claimed that the blank sailings required to maintain the market steady would have to exceed what was done in 2017-2019, putting additional pressure on the carriers’ blank sailings policy in October 2023.

In June 2023, Sea-Intelligence reported that the number of blank sailings is at its lowest since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Two months later, Sea-Intelligence announced that the average number of transpacific blank sailings rose from June to August.

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