Liner service reliability fell to a record low in January as the effects of US West Coast congestion and the phasing-in of new alliance services took their toll, according to Drewry’s Carrier Performance Insight.
The overall on-time performance for the three key East-West trades slumped to a disappointing 48.6% in January, down by 9.4 percentage points on December, which itself was one of the worst months of 2014, the shipping consultancy said.
On a trade lane basis, the Transpacific (based on 3,351 voyages) was the worst offender with an on-time performance of just 36% in January, down from 47% in December, the performance insight shows.
performance reliability in January
The smaller Transatlantic trade (437 voyages) fared little better on 45%, down by 1.4 points against the previous month, while the Asia-Europe trade (7,697 voyages) fell by 10 points to 54%, its worst performance since August.
“Drewry had anticipated some service deterioration in light of the new alliance formations which took effect in January and posed some risk from vessel repositioning,” said Simon Heaney, senior manager of supply chain research at Drewry. “Additionally, ongoing congestion at US west coast ports was also expected to adversely impact overall performance levels. But the extent of the decline is particularly disappointing.”
Maersk Line was once again the most reliable carrier, recording an average on-time performance of 76% in January, virtually unchanged from December. In a distant second place was COSCO on 61, while the worst performer was PIL on 21%.
“The sizeable margin between the most and least reliable shipping lines reemphasises that not all carriers are the same. It also demonstrates how vital it is for retailers and manufacturers to fully understand the relative performance of different carriers and associated liner services in order to support procurement decisions,” said Heaney.
“Shippers are getting much lower value for money at the moment as reliability is falling from an already low point, while all-in freight rates are rising. We expect reliability to improve in the coming months as new alliance services settle down and each carrier group seeks to make their new services more attractive to customers.”