According to analysts Sea-Intelligence, with the extended closure of Chinese factories extremely low levels of exports were forcing the mass cancellation of sailings, reported Seatrade Maritime News, Colchester, UK.
According to the analyst in a "very short period of time" lines had voided a further 31 sailings on the transpacific and Asia to Europe trades due to the coronavirus outbreak, on top of existing cancelled voyages over the lull of Chinese New Year.
On the transpacific, some 21 sailings had been blanked equating to 198,500 TEU of capacity, which came in addition to 61 voyages cancelled over Chinese New Year.
On the Asia-Europe trade, where larger vessels are deployed, ten additional sailings were suspended, withdrawing 151,000 TEU of capacity. Lines had already blanked 51 sailings over the holiday period on the Asia to North Europe and Mediterranean trade lane.
In real terms for container lines this will equate to a substantial hit on revenues. "In very round numbers, we are experiencing a shortfall of some 300,000 - 350,000 TEU per week in the market. Again, in very round numbers, if this is at average rate levels of around $1,000 per TEU it equals a revenue shortfall for the carriers of $300-350 million per week," SeaIntel said.
For shippers using backhaul trades the result could be the shortage of capacity in the weeks to come and also therefore higher freight rates.
"The rapid mass-cancellation of additional sailings have a high likelihood of causing capacity shortages for back-haul shippers three to six weeks into the future, depending on geography. Back-haul shippers should therefore now prepare not only contingency plans for potential capacity issues, but also for significant price spikes," the report said.