Update (June 14): Productivity at Yantian Port has reached 45% of normal levels after one more berth in the port’s western section was reopened, allowing a maximum of seven vessels alongisde at the same time, following the halting of operations due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
The port authority has successfully reopened the west port yard for laden import pickup, which is expected to have a positive impact on gate productivity.
However, schedule reliability will continue to suffer according to Maersk with an average waiting time of 16 days and counting.
In a media briefing on June 14, Hapag-Lloyd’s CEO Rolf Habben Jansen said: “We’ve decided in a lot of cases to omit Yantian. If you don’t see any improvement in the number of ships at anchor two or three weeks from today, it’s definitely going to be a long lasting issue.
“The next week to ten days will be very critical. We need to see how well [the reopening] functions over this week. Then we’ll be able to judge much better how long lasting those effects will be.
“In the end, I don’t think that will cause so much congestion in Europe and the US because this is caused at origin.
Ironically it will probably help to reduce the congestion issues a little bit in North America and Europe because you will have a little less cargo arriving there and so there’s a chance to catch up.”
Continued terminal congestion and vessel delays upwards of 16 days are expected at Yantian International Container Terminal (YICT) due to COVID-19 related impacts in the Greater China area.
A few COVID-19 positive cases were initially reported on May 26 and, consequently, all operations in the western area of YICT were suspended until further notice.
In an update published to its website, Maersk noted that the situation continues to deteriorate as more positive COVID cases have been confirmed in Shenzhen, where the ports of Yantian and Shekou are located, and in Guangzhou where Nansha Port are located.
Local authorities have tightened health and safety measures with elevated disinfection and quarantine measures being routinely implemented.
Maersk stated that 64 vessels, including from its partners, have omitted the Port of Yantian and Shekou in order to protect schedule reliability.
Hapag-Lloyd omitted ships sailing on its Far East Trade, IRT Asia Trade, Latam Asia Trade and Transpacific Trade in order to minimise vessel idle time and port congestion.
Import laden containers on the omitted vessels are expected to delay for over three weeks while Maersk is working on a contingency plan which covers 49 vessels for origin export shipments.
Yard density at YICT remains high and, from 8am June 9, import laden containers have resumed operation in the western area of YICT while other operations are suspended until further noticed.
Origin export containers and transhipment containers have been detained at the port.
As of June 10, export laden container gate-in continues to be accepted only seven days prior to vessel ETA, and only after the terminal confirms the advance reservation made by trucking companies for laden containers gate-in.
Nansha Port will also only accept export laden container gate-in seven days prior to vessel ETA while Shekou Port, including Chiwan Container Terminal, Mawan Container Terminal and Shekou Container Terminal, will accept export containers three days prior to vessel ETA as of June 13.
Export empty pick-up at Yantian/Shekou has retained normal operations with the exception of Shekou Greeting Fortune Depot D.