As you may have read in the national press there are currently problems at Felixstowe port.
Felixstowe is by far the biggest container port in the UK, handling around a half of all the UK container imports, handling container ships to and from China, the Far East and Indian sub-continent in particular. So when there is a problem at Felixstowe port it quickly becomes a whole container industry problem.
The current congestion levels are causing up to 15 containerships at a time to be queued up to unload at Felixstowe. This is resulting in unprecedented delays of between five and ten days before ships can be berthed and containers removed from quay.
There is a lack of information being released by Felixstowe port, aside from them blaming other parties including the haulage companies who are used to collect containers from the port. We have made our own enquiries and are reliably informed that the heart of the problem is a lack of staff. Ports turn over a lot of staff and the Covid situation limits a port’s ability to constantly recruit at the levels needed to ensure an efficient operation.
Knock On Effect On Other Ports
Other ports are also being affected now. Their problem is a surge of business as customers avoid Felixstowe so they are starting to be in much the same situation. The UK’s second and third ports served by ships from Far East and Indian subcontinent are Southampton and London Gateway, though both are much smaller. No other ports in the UK have ships sailing directly to and from the Far East.
We at K&L Freight are doing all we can to mitigate the effects of this problem. K&L Freight have been contracting slots with container hauliers and rail operators in bulk in advance for the benefit of our customers, though of course there is nothing we can do about a ship parked at anchor outside a port waiting to unload.