After a low point in early 2022, adherence to timetables and delays among container carriers are steadily improving. The market is showing the first signs that the supply chain is coping after the challenges of the past two years caused by the pandemic and the increase in consumer demand. This progress comes after lockdowns ended in China, but despite labor strikes at ports and ongoing reports of backlogs.
“Global schedule reliability appears to have broken the trend since earlier this year,” said Sea-Intelligence CEO Alan Murphy. “This was also the first time since the beginning of the pandemic that on-time delivery has improved year-on-year.”
According to newly published data from the analysis and consulting service, adherence to schedules rose by 3.6 percentage points to 40 percent in June 2022. While the trend of improvement that began in February has continued, it is the first time in 12 months that reliability has reached this level. The second half of 2021 was marked by a significant decline and by the end of the year Two-thirds of the ships were running behind schedule.
Most recently, in March 2021, container shipping was above the planned 40 percent mark. However, the level remains well below historical averages of 70 percent or better between 2018 and 2020. Sea-Intelligence bases its report on an analysis of 34 different trade routes and more than 60 carriers.
Strong gains at many of the leading airlines contributed to the overall improvement. Among the top 14 airlines, schedule reliability improved by 2.5 percent, an 8 percent improvement from a year earlier, with some of the biggest increases coming from Asia-based airlines, including Evergreen, COSCO, HMM and others.
“There were 10 carriers that were 30 to 40 percent on schedule and only two that were 20 to 30 percent on schedule,” Murphy points out. He also pointed out that there is a small difference of 7 percentage points for 10 of the airlines.
Maersk and Hamburg SÜD continue to have the highest on-time delivery performance, but both show a slight year-on-year decline. However, they remain the only carriers with more than 40 percent reliability. Among the larger airlines, Wan Hai and Yang Ming both remain below 30 percent but also showed strong year-on-year improvements.
The average delay has also improved greatly in 2022, but has remained at 6.24 days over the past two months. Between January and May 2022, it showed monthly improvements and overall is dramatically below the high of almost 8 days in January 2022 and the average of 6.9 days for all of 2021. Historically, however, the industry has been between average lags of 4 to 10 walked 5 days.
Contributing to improvements in 2022 could be the drop in volume reported by major airlines. However, shipping companies such as Maersk have commented that port congestion is ongoing and forecast that it is likely to continue, at least in the near future. Add to this the historic increase in shipping volumes over the next few months as retailers prepare for the holiday sales amid uncertainties such as B. the possibility of a strike at Britain’s largest container port and ongoing labor negotiations for US West Coast workers.