June 25, 2020 | By Jay Devers

Blanked sailings tank May port numbers

Blanked sailings are in the logistics news a lot lately as more carriers release their numbers for the third quarter, showing more blanked sailings are coming to balance supply and demand to maintain rates.  Ports around the country are showing severe reductions in throughput during the month of May, compared to the same time in 2019, and down for the year entirely. Part of the huge swing downward is the banner year of cargo that occurred in 2019, considering it was the biggest year on record for cargo in many places.

Carriers are blanking sailings, intentionally skipping port stops or voyages to reduce capacity in the face of reduced demand to maintain rates at a level they need to continue operating. When the bottom falls out of rates, carriers can’t afford to continue sailing, so blanking reduces the supply to meet that lower demand for ocean cargo. According to Freightwaves, due to blanked sailings, rates from China to the US West Coast are up almost 86% over 2019, due in part to unexpected excess demand exceeding what supply was available.

The over-eagerness of the second quarter blankings will not likely follow through the third quarter as announcements of Asia-Europe cancellations have already been announced. Analysts expect only 2% of Q3 sailings will be blanked to the US unlike the 14% that were blanked in Q2.

Port figures for the month of may follow that downward trend with only the port of Long Beach showing gains (9.5% over May 2019) due to some of the Port of Los Angeles’ traffic moving over to Long Beach because of staffing around COVID-19 closures. Port representatives figure 10% of the LA business moved to LB, but losses at LA climbed to 29.8% over May of 2019, well exceeding the diverted traffic issues. Other ports reporting losses include:

The business of blanked sailings has made equipment scarce and driven up rates, worrying some shippers about their supply chain budgets for the year. However, all is not dark. Working with Bestway Logistics gives you access to the buying power and equipment of a behemoth forwarder with the intimate service of a family-run company. We’re able to pull the equipment you need for the voyage, working around blanked and rolled sailings to keep your cargo moving on time. If you want to find out how easy it is to ship ocean freight with Bestway, contact us today.