Container Shipping From China To The UK During COVID-19

Many of our customers are wondering what is happening in the world of container shipping, specifically importing full containers and also part container loads from China and what effects COVID19 is having on shipping.

Container Shipping & International Shipping

The good news is that COVID 19 restrictions have not applied to international container shipping and in fact all international transport is normally except from such restrictions so on the face of it COVID19 should have had no effect. In practice though there was a huge dip in demand from March 2020 and in response to this shipping lines started with series of ‘tactical sailing cancellations’ where they took ships out of service and cancelled sailings, anticipating a dip in demand. This was to ensure that ships did not sail mainly empty with voyages making a loss, especially as this tends to lead to a collapse in prices as desperate shipping lines look to market empty container slots at a discount.

Far East Shipping

Clearly this has meant a rather erratic level of service. Container shipping from the Far East is built around weekly departures on a set day which has now changed to no sailings on certain weeks due to lack of demand, with around a third of all departures being voided in this way. One of the positive effects as far as shipping lines are concerned is that their actions have stopped freight rates falling.

Looking forward into August and beyond it seems that these tactical sailing cancellations will continue, though there may be less of them as the volume of business is now increasing. Clearly any reduction of demand as would be caused by another lock-down will most likely take us all the way back to the position we were in earlier this year with many sailings cancelled through lack of demand and the consequent interruption to the weekly ship departures as we are all now used to.

Shipping of full container loads and also part container loads from China to the UK through 2020 is proving to be anything but straightforward and it pays to use tactics such as using multiple shipping lines to avoid cancelled sailings. Clearly this kind of planning requires deep and current knowledge of the industry.
K&L Freight have years of experience planning the optimum sailings to avoid delays and provide customers with the best available value.