Market Conditions – The number of blank sailings announced for November is quite alarming. Even though capacity constraints eased somewhat in October, most believe by November the market will be back to where demand continues to outpace supply due to the relentless congestion at the Southern California and Savannah ports. Due to ongoing East Coast congestion the OCEAN Alliance announced they will suspend service into Boston now through February ‘22 to maintain schedule integrity. Other carriers are announcing limits to Savannah calls due to the severe congestion. The market might of have taken a breather in October, however the remainder of the year and right through January is going to be another exhausting marathon.
Market Rates – We are seeing downward pressure on China base port rates primarily on the PSW trade due to the post-holiday lull and additional charters in the market. For other sub-trades such as the PNW, Gulf and East Coast, rates have remained flat since October 1st. With all the recent blank sailing announcements we doubt any significant downward pressure on rates will appear in the marketplace through the remainder of October.
We haven’t seen the rumored release of additional USIPI capacity and inland rail destinations are still moving on high premium levels unfortunately. Since turn time on equipment continues to rise across the globe, it is doubtful the market will see any meaningful improvement on rates to inland destinations through Chinese New Year at least. With the number of blank sailings announced in the market, most expect any downward pressure on rates ease, flatten out or even start to increase as we move through November.
Chassis Shortage Worsens – Pictures of empty chassis racks at port complexes and inland rail depots are quite unsettling, even more so as over twenty-five additional vessels joined the queue in Southern California. Industry sources are reporting equipment turn times have increased over seven days. With demand expected to only increase in the short-term, we envision last mile accessorial costs continuing to climb. The lack of available drivers will also add fuel to the fire in some markets such as Southern California, NY, Memphis, and Chicago as truckers store full containers either due to a lack of drivers or in some cases warehouses not having enough labor to quickly process the incoming freight. One thing is certain, when chassis aren’t available, last mile deliveries come to a stand-still. Market forces can pressure the ports to expedite container flows however when there are no wheels to put under a container, all the pressure in the world will not provide a positive impact in the short-term. The Chicago UP meltdown two months ago is a perfect example of what happens when chassis dry up. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to this point in Southern California.
Blank Sailings on Horizon for November – The number of vessels at anchor of Southern California is at historical levels and the upstream impact is now being realized once again as a growing number of blank sailings are being announced by carriers. Just one example of the severity of this situation: THE Alliance carrier recently announced they will have only one sailing out of Qingdao to Southern California for the entire month of November!