"Blank sailings," which occur when liner companies decide to omit a scheduled voyage are "becoming a regular feature in particularly the Asia-Europe trade," said this week's edition of SeaIntel Sunday Spotlight
"It has always been the norm that a significant amount of sailings are blanked following Chinese New Year. This is prudent capacity management by the carriers in response to the widespread factory closures during this time of the year. However, if we only look at the last 9 months of 2012, we find a significant difference between Asia-Europe and the Transpacific trade. Basically 5 percent of all sailings in Asia-Europe were blanked in this period, whereas only 2 percent of the Transpacific sailings were cancelled. This means that in the Asia-Europe trade, we have seen 2 blank sailings every week on average."
Lars Jensen, chief executive officer of SeaIntel Maritime Analysis, writes that "From a service quality perspective, the data thus support the shippers' notion that this is becoming a significant issue if supply chain stability is of importance.
"However, from the carrier perspective, blank sailings have become a necessary tool to manage assets in a market suffering from chronic overcapacity. As the overcapacity continues to be a problematic issue, shippers would do well in preparing for a continued high level of blank sailings." - Chris Dupin