North Europe shippers face new capacity crunch, as more loops are axed

CMA CGM has advised its customers that it will void its North Europe to Asia FAL 1 loop, scheduled to depart from Dunkirk on 21 August, and its FAL 3 loop, sailing from Rotterdam on 11 September.

The French carrier blamed “fluctuations between supply and demand” on the North Europe to Asia trade as the reason for cancelling the sailings.

However, European shippers are increasingly concerned that they will see a repeat of the capacity crunch chaos of previous years on vessels for Asia in September and October.

Notwithstanding the latest announcement from CMA CGM, the alliance carriers have already announced that they are blanking a number of headhaul voyages in August and September equivalent to over 150,000 teu of capacity.

The action is in response to what so far appears to be a poor peak season, and to stabilise container spot rates which had been on the slide for several weeks.

Each cancelled headhaul sailing from Asia to Europe means a withdrawn backhaul vessel from North Europe and this has, in the past, thrown the supply chain into chaos.

Shippers will also be wary of the carriers trying to take the opportunity to hike backhaul rates by only agreeing to prioritise shipment of export containers after the agreement to a premium.

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