Preventative measures to stop the spread of the Coronavirus are being utilised with many companies in China choosing to have their staff work remotely from home. The Pioneer Freight office in Shenzhen has taken the same measures with all except two working from home.
Vessel and terminal operations in the Greater China Area continue to operate normally and custom houses are open. All ocean terminal depots also remain open and empty pick up and laden return services are operating. Many off-dock depots have resumed work, with the exceptions of Ningbo and Yantian. We understand that factories are working with limited capacity, trucking capacity may be limited, and transport limitations are still being applied by some local governments as preventative measurements.
The feeling within the community is that any return to work and full capacity will be a slow build and the lower volumes of cargo moving may extend into March / April.
Over the next month or two, we will see a knock-on effect of more blank sailings being announced to counterbalance the lack of demand. There will be limited space on vessels, catering for the needs of cargo that is ready to move. If cargo is for instance ready to move from Qingdao where less occurrences of the virus have been reported, the volume of vessel calls will still be less frequent than usual because if a blank vessel is announced, it is pulled from service loops completely.
It is expected that when China becomes fully operational hopefully in 6-8 weeks’ time there will be a backlog of containers to ship.
The situation in China is an evolving one – with different areas in China operating under separate government authorities, each shipment needs to be handled case-by-case.
February has been a volatile month for the world as we all watched the spread of the coronavirus worldwide.
The Lunar New Year holidays were extended to help minimise the spread of the virus, but as China returns to some form of normality it has become apparent that there is no end date to the disruption that this outbreak has caused.
With outbreaks are now surfacing in Northern Italy and South Korea the push is on to find a way to curb the escalation of the Coronavirus.
Whilst many companies in China are still working remotely, we are finding that there is no problem with making bookings with the shipping lines. However, there is a shortage of truck drivers along with domestic travel restrictions within China that have caused some issues.
As volumes continue to drop, shipping lines are still blanking a lot of sailings as it is not viable to move vessels at a low capacity.