Port of Hamburg remains well connected despite temporary changes in sailing schedules

03 Apr 2020 00:00 Economy

In the past few days, numerous liner shipping companies published information on temporary changes in sailing schedules due to the corona pandemic. The shipping alliances 2M (Maersk, MSC) and THE Alliance (Hapag-Lloyd, Yang Ming, ONE, HMM) are, for instance, suspending sailings on the East-West routes. The new changes include a temporary suspension of the 2M AE-20/Dragon and AE-2/Swan services for the second quarter of 2020, which both do not call Hamburg. Only three sailings of 2M’s remaining service AE-7/Condor will be suspended for the next five weeks. Until the beginning of May, customers can book an additional Far East service that will make non-scheduled calls at the Port of Hamburg.

THE Alliance also announced cuts in several areas. Seven out of 25 sailings between Asia and Northern Europe were blanked as well as four sailings in transatlantic container traffic. For all schedule adjustments, alternative routes calling the Port of Hamburg directly are provided by the shipping companies for the customers. Experts from the maritime industry expect similar temporary changes to be announced in the near future from OCEAN Alliance (CMA CGM, Cosco, OOCL, Evergreen). Looking at the schedule adjustments, it is already apparent that one third of the sailings between Europe and Asia will be cancelled between the beginning of April and mid-May.

Additionally, two joint liner services for container traffic to/from India modified their schedules and suspended two sailings for the IEX/IP-3/IO-3 service as well as three for IOS/EPIC-2/IP-2/EPI-2/IPAK-2/IP-2. These shipping lines include CMA CGM, Cosco, Hapag-Lloyd, OOCL, ONE and Yang Ming, but here too, shippers can switch to other liner services which will continue to call at Hamburg.

“The temporary adjustments in sailing schedules are an understandable response to decreasing transport volumes amid the evolving corona pandemic and its affects on global economy. The shipping companies are very flexible in adjusting their transport capacities to the weaker demand. A decline in the number of container ships calling at Germany’s largest seaport will also lead to a temporary decline in container handling. With the resumption of industrial production in China, we can probably expect more vessels and more cargo in the port again in the third quarter of 2020," says Ingo Egloff, CEO of Port of Hamburg Marketing.

Egloff expects that shippers in Hamburg will be able to stay satisfied with the remaining range of worldwide liner services. The suspension of sailings of some services also affects all other ports. The Port of Hamburg continuous to offer alternative liner services to customers in Germany and abroad while further transport to destinations in the hinterland is ensured by the Hamburg’s high modal split in rail transport. "Rail traffic continues to run smoothly without hardly any problems at the national borders," says Egloff. He also points out that the schedule adjustments of the major liner shipping companies in container transport also affect services in European feeder and distribution transport. The feeder and short-sea shipping companies are either adjusting their capacities to the temporary schedule changes or reducing their fleets. Therefore, maritime experts expect container transports in intra-European traffic to decline by eight percent in the period from March to May.

Port of Hamburg remains well connected despite temporary changes in sailing schedules