Congestion in UK Ports and Reduced Capacity Globally

December 15, 2020  |   News

As reported in the MSM in past few weeks, the UK has been heading towards a perfect storm of congestion at its ports, compounded by Covid H&S restrictions, lack of equipment (a shortage of containers), and global capacity issues relating to the stop/start economic disaster of this Covid ravaged 2020.

Several ocean freight carriers have announced further blank sailings and a temporary suspension of some services between Asia and Europe until January 2021.

In addition to this, further issues exist up the supply chain, with feeder services carrying containers from Southern China into Yantian for connection with Mother Vessel will be suspended from January until the end of February 2021, depending on the carrier. These are challenging times indeed for the international freight forwarding sector.

Shipping lines, UK consolidation warehouses and port authorities are struggling to function at this time, with the added seasonal demands causing chaos for truckers, forwarders and importers – and now exports are also becoming a casualty of the situation, with lack of space and equipment pushing export bookings back into January.

Ian Britton

Its no secret that the uncertainty over Brexit is adding fuel to the fire, however the two issues are most certainly unrelated. That said, with a ‘no deal’ scenario looking increasingly likely, we are braced for considerable disruption to the UK supply chain for some time to come. The shortage of empty containers in Asia is adding to the issue, with large stocks of empty containers at European Ports, whilst the issues at Felixstowe have resulted in containers due for discharge in the UK being offloaded in Europe, and now a stockpile of delayed boxes not being transferred quickly to the UK mainland. This growing stock at European ports is causing higher than anticipated space issues at a time of year when supply chains are traditionally at a breaking point, which is impacting further again on the whole issue of congestion.

We are doing everything in our power to mitigate the issues faced, however this issue looks to be worsening in the short term, so we would like to warn our clients and partners of the current situation, and advise to expect continuing delays with ocean movements. Whilst Felixstowe Port have received negative press for the continuing backlogs, we are now seeing similar issues at other ports of Southampton, London Gateway and Tilbury, as a knock on impact.

The impact, unfortunately, is not just delays. There are rate increases, surcharges and other levies as a result.

We suggest as much forward planning as possible – and to be mindful of the continuing developments over Brexit and the future trading relationship, and the potential for the perfect storm of congestion to become a hurricane.

We continue to offer a range of air, air/sea, courier and other solutions for particularly urgent cargo, and welcome any questions regarding this.

If you would like to discuss your immediate concerns, questions or plans then please contact us via email or telephone the office on +44 (0) 2380 860999

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