Ship cancellations after Chinese New Year cause buildup of cargo, with European terminals near capacity
Maersk Line has suspended bookings on its North Europe-to-Asia services effective immediately as it battles to clear up a backlog of containers at clogged European terminals.
Maersk said it expects to accept bookings again in early May after it has tackled an unprecedented buildup of cargo caused by consecutive vessel cancellations following the Chinese New Year.
“At the moment, terminal density at some ports is nearing yard capacity,” the Danish carrier said. “If bookings are not halted, this could negatively impact productivity, further slow down ocean carriers’ ability to clear the heavy backlog/overflow and impact other trades.”
Low westbound demand for Asian goods after the Chinese New Year prompted several carriers to cancel multiple sailings from Asia, and in turn, eastbound sailings from Europe. Despite the eurozone crisis and general rate increases in February, March and April, demand has continued to grow strongly for European goods on eastbound sailings to Asia, Maersk said.
“The booking stop is temporary, and we are working to clear it as soon as possible so that we can resume booking acceptance as usual,” Maersk said in a notice to shippers. “We are implementing this complete booking stop to ensure we prioritize and deliver on the bookings we have already accepted.”