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Container Transit Times Soar as Red Sea Crisis Continues Unabated

Mike Schuler
Total Views: 2914
June 24, 2024

The escalating conflict in the Red Sea region has disrupted international shipping routes, contributing to significantly higher transit times for the container shipping sector, according to a new report released by supply chain visibility platform, Project44.

Since the onset the attacks by the Yemen-based Houthis in November, hundreds of ships from all major carriers have altered their courses to avoid the area.

The Suez Canal, one of the busiest sea routes in the world, has seen an unprecedented drop in traffic as a result. An analysis of May 2024 figures revealed a startling 80% decrease in passages compared to May 2023. The report suggests this trend is unlikely to reverse soon, with the looming peak shipping season unlikely to drive a resurgence of carriers using the route.

Carriers are therefore adopting alternative routes around Africa or through the Panama Canal, increasing transit times significantly. Container transit times for routes from China to Europe, Southeast Asia to Europe, and Southeast Asia to the US East Coast have been extended by a median of 10-14 days. Project44’s says these transit times represent the “new normal” as carriers continue to avoid the Red Sea.

The consequences of the conflict have rippled across the United States and Europe, with the overall shipping times increasing by almost two weeks. Despite the initial variability in schedules post-attacks, carriers have now adjusted to the new routes, with delays reduced to 4-8 days from initial highs.

Project44 advises shippers to account for these additional transit days in their planning to ensure freight arrives in time for the high-demand retail peak season.

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