NORTH European container ports expect substantial reduction in calls from Asia and predicting a big drop in throughput in Q4, reports London's Loadstar.
Ocean carriers are cutting Asia to Europe and the US capacity in response to weak demand. The Mediterranean Shipping Co (MSC) and Maersk announced they would again be withdrawing their 2M AE1/Shogun Asia-North Europe service from China, blanking the sailing of the 14,336-TEU MSC Faith from Ningbo scheduled for November 6.
According to eeSea data, the loop features import calls at Zeebrugge and Rotterdam, a discharge and load call at Bremerhaven and a second call at Rotterdam to reload.
The Zeebrugge call was added in June, along with a new import call on 2M's AE6/Lion service, which the carriers said would help mitigate the impact of heavy landside congestion at Antwerp and Rotterdam.
As a result, the newly unified Antwerp-Bruges box terminal complex was better able to manage bunching vessel arrivals and very high container exchanges. But container throughput in the first nine months of the year was still down five per cent on the same period of 2021, at 10.2 million TEU.
Indeed, the AE6/Lion loop has also been blanked in recent weeks, thus the win for Zeebrugge in the summer months is likely to be reversed - or at least substantially reduced - until demand recovers.
And Antwerp-Bruges CEO Jacques Vandermeiren was pessimistic about the short-term outlook, saying "the negative trend in the container segment is likely to continue towards the end of the year".
Rotterdam throughput contracted 4.4 per cent between January and September, compared with the previous year to 11.5 million TEU.
"As a consequence of sanctions, container traffic between Russia and Rotterdam has almost come to a standstill," said the port, explaining that "in the past few years, about eight per cent of container traffic was related to Russia".
It added that an increased number of empty containers handled at the port's terminals had compensated for some of the lost Russian trade.
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