"Liner shipping is becoming less and less reliable as operators ignore service standards in the rush to cut costs. The bad news for shippers is that the situation is only going to get worse," Drewry said in the most recent edition of its Carrier Performance Insight
It found that the schedule reliability of container operators worsened in every quarter of 2013, with the fourth-quarter decline taking the on-time average below 64 percent — the lowest it has been since the third quarter of 2011, when it was 61 percent.
"Compared to the same quarter in 2012 when the all trades average reached a peak of 75.2 percent, the fourth quarter result was down by a hugely disappointing 11.4 points. The weaker performance coincided with a raft of skipped voyages. With more planned for the first couple of months of 2014, the short-term outlook for reliability is not great," the London-based group said.
“The focus on reliability seems to have been lost in the current cost-cutting environment. Shippers are now paying more for poorer services,” said Simon Heaney, senior manager of supply chain research at Drewry. “Shippers know that lines are saving money, so they will be unwilling to accept further rate increases. This could provide an opportunity for more reliable carriers to secure better rates.”
Drewry rated Maersk, Evergreen and Yang Ming as having the best on-time arrivals, and MSC and CSAV as being the worst performers.