Ocean Update

The situation around the Port of Baltimore continues to pose logistics challenges, and our teams are keeping a close eye on developments in the hopes of minimising the impact on customers.

Since the incident, a number of temporary channels have been opened to continue serving the port via barge services where operationally feasible, however there remains no timescale as to when the port will fully re-open and bookings can once again be accepted. We will keep affected customers up to date directly and via our dedicated advisory page.

Maersk vessel docking at a port

Elsewhere, the second quarter of the year traditionally sees a significant increase in container demand out of Asia, with the last three years showing a quarter-on-quarter increase of around 7% compared to the previous quarter.

This surge in demand can be attributed to various factors, including seasonal fluctuations in consumer spending, inventory replenishment after the first quarter, and an increase in manufacturing activities. Added demand means it’s important to anticipate and prepare your supply chain in advance, in order to ensure smooth operations and timely goods deliveries.

Grape season is also approaching Intra-European trade, and with it the peak of the reefer season for Egypt – which we expect to last for around 4 weeks from mid-May to mid-June. To ensure we cater to the increased demand, Maersk has added Egypt’s Damietta Port to the rotation of our SLB service that feeds into key European hubs. We have also upsized the service and provided additional capacity via alternative routings. We recommend customers planning ahead and booking early during this period.

Key Ports Update

As the situation in the Red Sea remains highly complex, we continue to reroute our vessels around the Cape of Good Hope for the foreseeable future to safeguard our crew, vessels, and our customers’ cargo. As recent attacks have reached further offshore, this has forced our vessels to lengthen their journey further, increasing costs and sailing time. The knock-on effects of the situation have included bottlenecks and vessel bunching, as well as delays and equipment and capacity shortages. We estimate an industry wide capacity loss of 15-20% on the Far East to North Europe and Mediterranean market during Q2. Maersk teams have established several measures to boost reliability, including sailing faster and adding capacity in line with our customers’ needs. Read more about what the situation in the Red Sea means for your business.

In light of the ongoing conflict situation in and around Israel, the Turkish Government Ministry of Trade announced that it would suspend all trade with Israel. This has resulted in immediate suspension of all export and import cargo between Turkey and Israel, including cargo with transshipments. For all affected cargo, Maersk will need to trigger a Change of Destination (COD) or cancellation in line with these restrictions.

Our teams are working hard to find the best-possible solutions for customers’ cargo, and we will communicate all contingency details with you as soon as possible, including the terms of COD and cancellation. Read more about suspension of trade between Turkey and Israel.

Elsewhere, terminals in North Europe are facing line-up congestions due to a combination of bad weather, holiday-related port closures, and clashes between services. Nevertheless, our key ports in the region, such as Bremerhaven and Rotterdam, maintain healthy yard density and good operational outcomes. In Rotterdam, expect reduced reefer plugs from end of June until end of November. Due to strong bad weather in South African ports, cargo bound for North Europe is expected to encounter delays for the coming two weeks. To address this, our teams are making use of buffer times, arranging swaps to secure berthing windows, ensuring we maintain on-time arrivals into South Africa. In Finland, the end of industrial action across the ports has seen volumes pick up again, resulting in increased southbound volumes.

In the West Mediterranean, waiting time in terminals is now up to six hours for vessels arriving on time, which is considered as being back on track with berthing windows. In Algeciras, due to high yard density, flow imbalance, and irregular schedules yard density remains high and is handled week on week by adjusting flows to revert to operational excellence again. In Tangier, vessel waiting times are back on track with one of the terminals reporting high yard density for reefer containers, where extra plugs will become available at the end of the month. Until then, our teams are keeping a close eye on the situation and redirecting flows if and when required.

To receive the latest updates on your cargo, sign up for ETA notifications.

Air Freight Update

As we move into the summer months and traditional peak season, air freight is continuing to be utilised as a fast and reliable option – particularly when ocean capacities are stretched due to historically increased demand. We encourage customers to work closely with Maersk Air Cargo teams and plan accordingly moving into the busier period.

Close up shot or cargo getting loaded to a plane

Air freight transport out of Asia into Europe is indeed showing a significant increase recently, thanks in part to e-commerce business surging. In fact, the percentage of e-commerce air cargo has jumped by 10% in the past five years and is set to continue rising – growing from 20% in 2022 to reach as much as 30% by 2027.

The situation in and around the Red Sea is impacting air freight rates out of the Indian sub-continent into Europe, with businesses trying to avoid bottlenecks in the area. Maersk ’s Sea-Air product allows ocean cargo from Asia to be discharged at one of our hubs in Dubai, Salalah, Muscat or Colombo, before completing its journey into Europe via air freight.

Please click here to find helpful information about our air freight network and our services to and from Europe.

Inland Update

The month of May started with public holidays across the continent, which saw holiday working hours across terminals and inland connections, requiring adjustments in capacities and timings. Our teams have worked ahead of the holidays to develop contingency plans and plan around the impact of holiday-related closures. Moving on after the public holidays, our operations continue on regular schedules.

The ambition of the Gemini cooperation starting from February 2025 is to offer a best-in-class ocean network that delivers on the needs of our customers. As such, our teams are working on supporting this network beyond ocean and further into inland services to ensure reliability and speed. The Port of Barcelona, though lesser known than our North Europe hubs, is gaining prominence and offering shorter transit times on Far East and Americas trades.

Maersk container unloading

To support this development, our teams have worked on developing inland solutions out of Barcelona, to serve customers across Spain and the south of France. With our rail service between Barcelona, Lyon, and Toulouse, our teams are in charge of capacity control and can give specific allocations to customers to ensure resilience in their supply chain. Due to the utilisation of electrified rail, this route can help customers address their carbon emissions. To further simplify the process, the rail product is now available for instant booking on Maersk Spot. Customers looking to transport their cargo further into France can make use of our rail connection between Toulouse and Bordeaux, while customers on the Spanish side will benefit from daily trains from Barcelona to Tarragona and Zaragoza. 

Last year, Maersk has purchased EV trucks as part of our efforts to reduce GHG emissions in inland container transports, and we continue to see increased interest for environmentally friendlier transportation from our customers. This week, in collaboration with a tech customer, our teams are starting another EV truck trial in Duisburg in Germany. At the same time, in Bremerhaven another three battery electric vehicles (BEVs) have started operations. The project is funded with more than 4.3m Euros by the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport in context of the federal funding program “Climate-friendly commercial vehicles and infrastructure (KsNI)”. The funding program is coordinated by NOW GmbH, applications are approved by the Federal Logistics and Mobility Office.

Find out more about our Inland solutions and services across Europe.

Customs Update

The UK Government's 'Ecosystem of Trust' pilot saw Maersk and IBM lead a consortium of businesses looking to revolutionise customs processes and create frictionless trade through data sharing and enhanced supply chain visibility. Implementing trusted trade lanes and digital trade corridors successfully sped up processes at the border, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and food waste, and ultimately made trade safer and more predictable. Click here to watch our video on the scheme and understand the global potential for its implementation.

Eagle eye shot of a male and female looking into a tablet

On 3rd May 2024, the EU’s trade agreement with New Zealand came into force, which is expected to cut duties for businesses by €140m annually. As well as zero tariffs, companies can also benefit from an open services market in sectors like finance, telecom, transport and delivery services, fair treatment for EU investors, easier access to government contracts, support for small businesses, and reduced compliance requirements and procedures.

The agreement includes adherence to sustainability commitments like the Paris Climate Agreement and core labour rights. Find out more here.

Likewise, the EU and Central America Association’s agreement also officially entered force in early May, with the goal of delivering economic growth and strengthening cooperation between the two areas. Benefits include tariff elimination, improved access to government procurement, services and investment markets, boosted regional integration with unified import duties and simplified customs procedures and support for sustainable development. Click here for more information.

Our team of customs experts is on hand to support customers through any customs procedures or complications, so please don’t hesitate to reach out to discuss your processes.

Ecommerce Update

Postal and parcel market continues to be an evolving and fast changing industry. According to Eurosender data, letter post volumes saw a decline in the last several years in both domestic and international volumes. At the same time, parcel deliveries saw a boost in volumes, as well as an evolution of express delivery services. The express courier sector grew by 18% year-over-year in five years, meaning we are seeing a drop in the average transit time of parcel, most notably in Germany where the average transit time is 1.19 days. The increase in express delivery is largely driven by consumers who report speed of delivery as the most important factor after its cost. For businesses, this underscores the importance of the overall consumer experience, as well as supply chain efficiency. Thanks to the rise of advanced technologies, such as the use of artificial intelligence, in optimising route planning, express delivery services are becoming more accessible to both businesses and consumers.

Female working in a warehouse

For consumers, the importance of transit times lies in the desire of convenience and reliability. Individuals expect their purchases to arrive in-time, whether it is a last-minute gift or everyday items, prompt delivery is paramount. Timely delivery enhances the overall shopping experience which directly translates into higher levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For companies, transit times are crucial for optimizing operational efficiency. Shorter transit times translate to faster inventory turnover, allowing companies to replenish stock more frequently, and minimize the need for extensive warehousing. By offering multiple levels of speed for their delivery services, companies can work on building resilience into their supply chains.

At Maersk, our teams are able to advise customers on the solutions most suited to their business and customer profile. To find out more about how our teams can help provide the best last mile solution for your business, meet us on 5 and 6 June at DELIVER in Amsterdam, or head to our E-Delivery page.

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