Reliability figures for liner services crashed to a record low in January, part of knock-on effects caused by US West Coast congestion and the phasing-in of new alliances according to global shipping consultancy, Drewry.
The overall on-time performance for the three key East-West trades slumped to a disappointing 48.6% in January, down by 9.4% compared to December, which itself was one of the worst months of 2014.
On a trade lane basis, the Transpacific (based on 3,351 voyages) was the worst offender with an on-time performance of just 36% in January, down from 47% in December.
The smaller Transatlantic trade (437 voyages) fared little better on 45%, down by 1.4% against the previous month, while the Asia-Europe trade (7,697 voyages) fell by 10% to 54%, its worst performance since August.
Simon Heaney, senior manager of supply chain research at Drewry, said: “Drewry had anticipated some service deterioration in light of the new alliance formations which took effect in January and posed some risk from vessel repositioning. Ongoing congestion at US west coast ports was also expected to adversely impact overall performance levels. But the extent of the decline is particularly disappointing.”
Maersk Line topped the reliability charts with an average on-time performance of 76% with Cosco in a distant second on 61% while Pacific International Lines (PIL) was the worst performing shipping line on 21%.
Heaney added: “The sizeable margin between the most and least reliable shipping lines reemphasises that not all carriers are the same. It also demonstrates how vital it is for retailers and manufacturers to fully understand the relative performance of different carriers.”
He also explained that whilst shippers are getting less value for money due to poor reliability and higher freight rates, Drewry expects reliability to improve in the coming months “as new alliance services settle down”.