Large bottlenecks in Northern European ports prompt delays for carriers

Dear friends,

When we have problems already with this lower volume from China, how shall we cope with the bigger volume once the lockdown is over and then there will be summer holidays, where also a lot of workers/truckers will be on holiday…….

I don’t know, whether I am looking forward to summer……..

Best regards

Fracht Lt., Basle

R. Reisdorf


Shortage of port workers and truck drivers causes significant delays for carriers in Northern European ports, according to Alphaliner. The situation has worsened.


Published: 18.05.22 at 12:53/SHIPPING WATCH


While bottlenecks seem to ease off in the container terminals on the US west coast, the large ports in Northern Europe is on the other hand getting overloaded with containers, according to an update by analyst firm Alphaliner.

The accumulation of containers in the terminals and the lack of transport capacity further in the mainland result in considerable delays for container carriers on the routes between East Asia and Northern Europe, according to Alphaliner, which has examined delays on a number of voyages to and from Northern European ports.


The carriers’ vessels spend an average of 101 days on a voyage from East Asia to Northern Europe and back, and the ships are on average delayed by 20 days when they return to China, shows the update.


According to Alphaliner, the situation has worsened compared to February this year and November last year, when ships returned to China with an average delay of 17 days.


Alphaliner mentions MOL vessel Triumph, which left Qingdao on Feb. 16 and is expected to arrive at Algeciras on March 25. From there, the ship was supposed to call at ports in Rotterdam, Antwerp and Hamburg before returning to China.


”The time needed to discharge and load at the three biggest European container ports was a total of 36 days between arrival at Rotterdam and departure from Hamburg. Such delays cannot be caught up by sailing eastbound at full speed,” reads the update.


Delays vary among container alliances, but according to a representative from the 2M alliance, consisting of MSC and Maersk, who Alphaliner has spoken to, the problem is a distinct Northern European one.


The reasons are most likely a shortage of workforce in the ports and lack of truck drivers, meaning containers are piling up in the terminals, while ships are forced to wait.


At the beginning of April, the chief executive of the Port of Rotterdam Authority said that 8,000 jobs were vacant at the port alone.


According to Alphaliner, the recent Covid lockdowns in China are not part of the problem.


”The port of Shanghai has remained operational and export volumes to Europe have actually dropped due to less cargo being delivered to the terminals,” the analyst firm says.

However, Alphaliner predicts that the Northern European ports may see problems increase when exports from Chinese ports return to full speed.


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