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Blank sailings on Transpacific and Asia-Europe trades

Blank sailings on Transpacific and Asia-Europe trades

7. May 2021
Blank sailings

There were a high number of blank sailings last year, particularly due to the Corona Pandemic. The analyst Sea Intelligence has released an analysis this week showing a high number of cancelled sailings especially in March 2020. 

In total, the carriers have made and announced 919 blank sailings on Transpacific and Asia-Europe trades since week 4 of 2020 until week 28, which is mid-July 2021, including a preview of upcoming blank sailings. In early 2020, there was a high peak of blank sailings announcements due to the Coronavirus. This was followed by two peaks in May and August, with the August peak more related to the anticipated seasonality for Golden Week. Since September 2020, they have subsequently discovered a new trend with a steady growth and week-to-week volatility on the Asia-Europe trades. Another result from the analysis is that the closure of the Suez Canal did not cause a noticeable change in the carriers’ blank sailings announcement behaviour. Here you can read more about the results. 

What exactly are blank sailings and what are the reasons ? 

The term blank sailing defines a scheduled sailing that has been cancelled by a carrier or shipping line. This means that a vessel skips certain ports or that the entire sea transport is cancelled. This can have various reasons. For example, when space demand on ships is low during Golden Week or China’s New Year, sailings are cancelled to increase ocean freight rates. Furthermore, urgent repairs, congestion at certain ports, or the use of a ship on a different route can also be reasons for blank sailings. In the beginning of last year it was the Corona pandemic that had a huge impact. This was, among other circumstances, due to closed factories and a drop in demand during lockdown. 

Currently, the shortage of vessel capacity is driven by a variety of factors. Such factors include: port congestion, vessel crew with Covid, and also vessels struck with engine malfunction contributing to blank sailings.

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