China vessel schedules and pricing update

10th March, 2020

As the Chinese factories start back up their production in amongst the coronavirus concerns, we are unfortunately seeing an increasing adjustment in vessel schedules.  Many of the carriers ran blank sailings around Chinese new year – a system whereby they reduce their capacity to allow for the lower volumes.  As the coronavirus started to spread, the carriers continued this system and from some ports withdrew even more vessels.

Unfortunately now, they are experiencing congestion from some Chinese ports and so are adjusting their schedules to Australia.  Some of this congestion is caused by lack of vessels, lack of equipment, weather, or by the lack of vehicles available to transport cargo around and the fact that not all port staff are back to work to load and discharge the vessels – making services slower.  Similarly while in transit some are also adjusting schedules to accommodate the 14 day Quarantine requirements for those originating from mainland China.  

Most common situations faced:

  • Adding in extra port calls in China
  • Bypassing some Australian ports to make up lost time

Unfortunately the carriers are reported to have lost in excess of $350 million per week in lost global revenues so we may well see these measures carried further forward while the market tries to recover. 

They have announced a General Rate Increase as of 1st April of US$300 per 20′ / US$600 per 40′ from China to Australia and New Zealand. 

Some carriers from the USA have also announced a ‘Container Imbalance Surcharge’ to help cover costs incurred from blank sailings and equipment shortages – again bought on by the coronavirus.

While we are seeking to mitigate any and all increases, it is important to note that now, more than ever, we request advanced notice of your pending orders so we can work with you and your supplier to find the best possible sailing options.  The key at the moment is to get cargo here as quickly as possible to get companies back to previous production and distribution levels.   

Right now we would suggest keeping a buffer on all orders because while your supplier may be back to work, the shipping lines are unfortunately going to continue to adjust the schedules.  Even worse, some adjusting whilst in transit where we have no ability to Make any alternative arrangements. 

Please get in touch with should you require any further details.



Southern Cross Cargo Pty Ltd

+61 7 3899 6466
12/168-170 Redland Bay Road
Capalaba QLD 4157
Level 1, Suite 26, 29 Kiora Road
Miranda NSW 2228
PO Box 245
Capalaba QLD 4157