Vessel Arrival Delays Increased at China Ports in Q3 While Capacity Varied

Oct. 28, 2020

 |  Insights

As we near the end of peak season in 2020, we reviewed vessel arrival delay trends and total vessel capacity trends at three China ports throughout the year. We reviewed the performance of container vessels with a capacity of 300 or more TEU at the ports of Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Tianjin.

Longest Vessel Arrival Delays Were in September

First, we examined the monthly average vessel arrival delays at three major China ports. As shown in Figure 1, delays trended below 35 hours at all three ports for the first seven months of the year, but since July, delays have been trending upwards. Average delays at Shanghai were the longest, increasing by 35 percent from January to September with average delays around 45 hours in September, while delays at Shenzhen have followed Shanghai’s trajectory, peaking at 32 hours in September. 

Tianjin experienced improved performance over the summer in 2020, with delays reaching 26 hours in March and then dropping to 14 hours in July. Yet, by the end of Q3, average arrival delays at Tianjin had risen to nearly 28 hours.
Vessel Arrival Delays at China Ports

Capacity of Vessels at Shanghai Peaked in July

Next, we looked at the total vessel capacity visiting the ports over each month. Capacity was at its lowest for all three China ports in February, as shown in Figure 2. Each port had different trends between March and September. Tianjin experienced its greatest capacity of over 1,880,000 TEU in June. Shanghai reached its highest levels in July with capacity over 6,760,000 TEU, while Shenzhen reached its highest levels in September with over 5,890,000 TEU. 

By the end of Q3, however, capacity had dropped 9 percent at Shanghai and 24 percent at Tianjin from their respective peaks. Shanghai had a slight increasing trend in capacity from July to September. 

Vessel Capacity at China Ports

Capacity at Three China Ports Combined Increased Slightly in Q3

After reviewing the total capacity of vessels visiting the three ports by quarter, we found that Q1 had a capacity of close to 37 million TEU, Q2 was just over 39 million TEU, and Q3 was over 41 million TEU. Despite flat or lower capacity in August and September compared to July, the total capacity was greater in Q3 than in Q2. While the ports experienced slightly more capacity in Q3, arrival delays increased at a much greater rate over the year. 

While past vessel arrival delays and capacity may not be indicative of future performance, you may compare the monthly average performance with your shipments’ performance as well as see the current trends through September as reference for future planning.

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