Port Performance During the Coronavirus Outbreak

March 27, 2020

 |  Insights

COVID-19 has been spreading around the world and having an immense impact on global health, economies, and supply chains. On March 11, 2020 the World Health Organization declared a pandemic as the virus caused outbreaks in multiple regions. Countries with the most confirmed cases as of March 24, included China, Italy, US, Spain, Germany, Iran, France, and South Korea. Governments have been restricting travel and directing their citizens to shelter in place to flatten the curve of the spreading disease.

While transportation services are considered essential to remain open, disruptions due to the virus have caused carriers to blank sailings, an imbalance of containers, a shortage of labor, and changes in vessel crew requirements. To find out how top container ports at the impacted countries have performed during the outbreak, we reviewed the number of vessel arrivals, berth times, arrival delays, and waiting times at the ports of Busan, Gioia Tauro, Hamburg, Le Havre, Los Angeles, Shanghai, and Valencia. We compared the port performance in February 2020 to February 2019.

 

Vessel Arrivals Increased at Busan and Decreased at Los Angeles

First, we reviewed the number of vessel arrivals at the seven ports. Busan, Gioia Tauro, and Valencia each had more vessel arrivals in February 2020 compared to February 2019. Hamburg, Le Havre, Los Angeles, and Shanghai had fewer vessel arrivals in February 2020 compared to the prior year. Blanked sailings out of China may have caused the drop at these ports in 2020. In addition, increasing transshipment routes through Busan might have caused the increase in vessel arrivals.

 

16% Shorter Average Berths Times at Los Angeles in February 2020

Overall, the average vessel berth times at the ports remained steady when comparing February 2020 and 2019. The monthly average berth time at Los Angeles was 9 hours shorter in February 2020 compared to February 2019. Average berth times at each of the other ports either slightly decreased or remained nearly the same across the two periods.

 

Longest Arrival Delays Were at Le Havre in February 2020

The overall vessel arrival delays increased slightly compared to last year. However, the delay changes varied among the ports. Average vessel arrival delays increased the most at Busan, with a 7-hour increase. The average arrival delays decreased the most at Los Angeles, with a 10-hour decrease. The longest monthly average vessel arrival delay we reviewed was 31 hours at Le Havre in February 2020.

 

Longer Waiting Times at Shanghai in February 2020

Lastly, we measured the average vessel waiting times of vessels that waited in the port vicinity before berthing. Hamburg experienced very short average waiting times of less than an hour. Los Angeles also had short waiting times. Gioia Tauro had the longest vessel waiting times among the ports in February 2019, with vessels waiting on average for nearly 17 hours. In February 2020, Shanghai had the longest waiting times with an average waiting time of approximately 15 hours. Busan, Hamburg, Shanghai, and Valencia had longer waiting times in February 2020 compared to February 2019. At the same time, Giola Tauro, Le Havre, and Los Angeles had shorter waiting times.

 

Capacity Cuts and Fluctuating Vessel Arrival Delays During Pandemic

While each of the ports’ countries have been coping with the coronavirus in February 2020, we did not see a clear pattern in terms of port performance across the ports. We did find that Busan had more vessel arrivals and longer berth times, arrival delays, and waiting times this February compared to last February at the transshipment port. At the same time, during the prolonged break for Chinese New Year due to the coronavirus, Shanghai experienced fewer vessel arrivals, flat berth times, and longer arrival delays and waiting times compared to the prior year. As capacity was cut from China, Los Angeles experienced fewer vessel arrivals, shorter berth times, shorter delays, and nearly no vessel waiting time.

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