The Impact Of Blank Sailings Due To Covid-19

Shipping Vessel

COVID-19 vs Shipping

According to an article by SAIMI, the South African International Maritime Institute, which recently featured on The Maritime Executive platform, the country certainly has not been exempt from the impact of blank sailings due to the effects of the global COVID-19 pandemic.

As the global freight and shipping industry navigate uncharted waters in this regard, a decline in global demand continues to affect ports around the world, as well as related industries such as trucking, oil and gas. This is particularly prominent when you take into account the increasing number of blank sailings that have left container ships sitting idle in harbours around the world.

When a nationwide three-week lockdown was announced to take effect on the 27th of March by the South African government, an immediate ban was placed on the docking of cruise ships and changing of crews at local ports. This was later extended by another two weeks and followed by a series of escalating response levels that took effect on the first of May. None of the 8 South African seaports was closed outright, but the automotive and multipurpose terminals at the ports of East London, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth and Maydon Wharf in Durban were closed in due course as the demand for the handling and transportation of non-essential cargo decreased.

Lockdown measures also lead to a decrease in demand for consumer products overall, and this had a knock-on effect on the warehousing and distribution industries related to South African maritime trade. In fact, it is now estimated that port operations have stood at approximately 60% of its overall capacity since lockdown was instituted.

The effect of the COVID-19-related disruption is having on the South African economy at large, and the shipping trade, in particular, is to a large extent due to the fact that China is our largest trading partner. As such, South Africa feels the ripple effects of disruption in China’s import and export activities quite keenly. Additionally, the ongoing lockdown is also having a continued impact on South African export, which has already lead to countless job losses in various related industries. Read more here.

Keep an eye on the blog in coming weeks and months for more shipping news from around the globe. In the meantime, feel free to get in touch with a member of the Link Ship Chandlers team if you would like to learn more about the services we provide from the ports in Cape Town, Saldanha, Port Elizabeth, Coega, Durban and Richards Bay.

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