The three big carrier alliances plan to skip 27% of their originally scheduled Asia – Europe sailings in the first seven weeks of this year. Under normal circumstances, the shipping lines’ 18 Far East – North Europe & ten Far East – Med loops should have offered a total of 196 sailings in the period from 1 January to 17 February.
This is however not the case. Based on the observed actual sailings in the first weeks of this year, as well as published forward schedules for the upcoming weeks, it appears that 53 of these planned voyages have been axed due to lack of cargo demand.
This number could still increase if the carriers decide to blank further sailings after the week-long Chinese New Year Holiday.
It has become a general practice for container lines to ‘void’ sailings in the calm weeks after the Chinese New Year.
In contrast to this, the weeks before the holidays typically saw a small export rush from China, as cargo is shipped out before the factories close and productions comes to a near standstill.