Despite initial concerns, the number of cancelled voyages by shipping lines during the Chinese Golden Week holidays has risen steeply. Sea-Intelligence had previously warned that carriers had only cut 3% of capacity during the four-week period that includes Golden Week and the three weeks that follow, compared to a 12.9% reduction in 2019. However, in the past two weeks, shipping lines have announced an additional 29 blank sailings, bringing the total number of cancellations closer to levels seen in previous years. Sea-Intelligence CEO Alan Murphy stated that capacity reductions on the Asia-North Europe route now exceed previous years, with a 19.9% blanked capacity across the four-week period.
The two largest shipping lines, MSC and Maersk, had previously announced the cancellation of 11 and five services respectively during Golden Week. However, in recent years, carriers have become more dynamic in announcing cancellations closer to the voyage date. Despite this, the current level of blanked capacity is on track to match the levels seen in 2019 and the average from 2017 to 2019. These cancellations come as the shipping industry faces ongoing challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic and disruptions in global supply chains.
The increased number of cancelled voyages during the Chinese Golden Week holidays indicates that shipping lines are taking action to mitigate the seasonal lull. By reducing capacity, carriers aim to manage the decrease in demand during this period. However, the current reduction in capacity is still lower than the levels seen in 2019, highlighting the ongoing impact of the pandemic on the shipping industry. The announcement of additional blank sailings in the past two weeks suggests that carriers are adjusting their plans closer to the voyage date, reflecting the dynamic nature of the industry. Despite the challenges faced, shipping lines are working to ensure the efficient operation of global supply chains.