The advice from carriers about the introduction of a blank sailing is often received late, can be confusing, and sometimes conflicts with the information received by other carriers in the same alliance.

Of course, these are difficult unprecedented times and while volume is as low as it is, there is a need for carriers to introduce drastic measures. But usually, during periods of low volume and overcapacity, we witness rates plummet. That is not the case now.

The confusion over blank sailings seems to have introduced a level of service uncertainty for importers and exporters, which has led to rates being maintained during this period.

While we do not know just yet how well global economies are going to bounce back after the coronavirus lockdowns relent, the UK seems to reacting faster than the lines can re-engage services, and the holding of rates could be considered good news for the market as a whole.

While every exporter and importer want their costs as low as possible, if the rates get too low we could find ourselves back in the situation of three to four years ago, when the carrier Hanjin went bust causing global issues.

Carriers have today confirmed that short shipments are likely due to the sudden surge in UK retailers ordering stock, in a bid to ‘be ready‘. The optimistic sentiments have caused a mass imbalance, meaning the market has reacted much faster than the lines anticipated, and cannot, therefore, replace those blank sailings resulting in a shortage of space. We are expecting some turbulence up ahead and would encourage the best forecasting/pre-booking as much as possible.

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