USA to New Zealand - Market Update

As you will already know, there are major issues moving cargo, both LCL and FCL, from West Coast to New Zealand at present, with very few options available for sea-freight. Major congestion and port issues are playing a part with record number of vessels at anchor in and around West Coast ports.

The situation for West Coast shipments to New Zealand is made worse by the fact that there are very few vessels sailing Los Angeles to Auckland. This used to be a weekly service, and changed to a fortnightly service mid-2020. The service is still advertised as fortnightly, but in reality the vessels are only physically sailing every 4 – 6 weeks. There have only been 13 vessels depart Los Angeles for New Zealand this entire year so far. No vessels sailed for the whole month of August, and the increasing gaps between sailings add to a backlog of containers at Los Angeles ports and rail-head. This means vessels are loading with more containers left behind at the port, and then adding to the overbooking of the next sailings.  

Due to the severe backlog of loaded containers already at Los Angeles port/terminal for worldwide destinations, shipping lines have severely restricted / cancelled bookings to New Zealand on the next 2-3 sailings, and new bookings are likely to be declined upon request also. Until the backlog is manageable, it is entirely possible that existing bookings will also be delayed further. We are also in a situation where bookings can and have been cancelled without notice, and as they are cancelled, we are required to start the full booking process again. 

Please note the next direct sailing – JPO Libra 132 - has also been further delayed, which will likely mean the sailings after this will go back further. Shipping lines have not yet confirmed that all bookings will be kept in place for JPO Libra 132, and we are checking with them constantly. We will keep you advised on date changes for current and new bookings as always. All direct carriers share space on the same infrequent sailings, so there are no options at present to move cargo earlier, other than air-freight. The carriers and ports are advising they see no sign of improvement for at least the next 3-6 months, and recent news articles around the West Coast port situation.    

As a result of this, Brennan/Mondiale have also had to close LCL bookings for the next two sailings from the West Coast, with first available vessel for new bookings as below:

London Express 136
Current ETD Los Angeles            6th November
Current ETA Auckland                 27th November

** Please note this is the current advertised sailing date, but as this is the third sailing on schedule, it is highly likely to be delayed by 4-6 weeks as we get closer to departure dates. This estimated delay is based on current gaps between sailings. **

Unfortunately, we do not have any alternative sea-freight options for New Zealand at present. Transhipment carriers have suspended bookings until end November at earliest for one carrier, and indefinitely for most others. Transhipment carriers via both Asia and Panama have had suspended bookings from North America to Oceania for the past few months due to ongoing congestion and space at transhipment ports.

East Coast vessels remain overbooked and truckers are also over capacity, but these have been weekly sailings with fewer delays and we are moving as much cargo as possible. Allocations have been reduced for all carriers, and we are constantly working on the best options | all options available.  

We will continue to do so, and move all cargo as promptly and efficiently as we can for you. 

In summary, below are some statistics that may be of interest, and may help to explain the situation in more depth:

  • Direct West Coast service has lost approximately 18,600 TEU of capacity this year due to ongoing congestion and delays.
  • Los Angeles to Auckland vessels are sailing with increasingly longer gaps; only 13 departures from Los Angeles to Auckland so far this year to date.
  • Shipping lines are advising approximately 400,000 TEU are loaded and pending at Los Angeles ports and terminals for worldwide destinations.
  • Record high number of container ships at anchor or drifting off the West Coast ports; close to 70 vessels either at anchor or drifting; close to 100 vessels at anchor or drifting for West Coast total.
  • An estimated 500,000 containers are sitting on cargo ships pending berth and unloading.
  • Truckers are frequently at the port in queues for their maximum eight hours per day without getting an empty or loaded container.
  • September backlogs of containers at Long Beach port broke multiple records.
  • Statistics for week commencing 20 September:   A total of 154 ships were in port at Los Angeles-Long Beach, marking a new record according to MXSOCAL. These include a record 97 containerships, of which 27 were at berth and the rest at anchor or in drift areas. A record 37 vessels were in drifts areas, including 29 containerships, six tankers, and two bulk carriers.

 If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate in contacting your Mondiale VGL representative.

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