Corona Virus outbreak leads to an increase in blank sailings

It seems, the feet of global shipping are stuck in miry clay.

With China reeling under the effects of the “2019 Novel Coronavirus” (COVID-19) outbreak, global trade has taken a major hit. More and more shipping lines have reduced their number of seaborne vessels on the routes connecting China and Hong Kong with other major shipping ports around the world. The reason being, to cut down the possibilities of spreading the highly-contagious virus any further. Moreover, countries like Australia and New Zealand are not allowing any container ships to enter their ports until their crew are declared free of the virus. All of this is setting up a scenario where, as per industry sources, shippers could be staring at months of delivery delays.

Photo by Kinsey on Unsplash

China is an important cog in the wheel of container shipping, (7 out of the world’s 10 largest containers ports are in China) wherein everything from fresh produce to electronics, apparels to automobile spares gets shipped from here. One of the largest shipping alliances, the 2M Alliance, comprising of Maersk Line & MSC, has drastically reduced the number of port calls, to and from China, resulting in an increase in what is known as “blank sailings” or “void sailings”. Though it is normal for this time of the year for shipping lines to implement blank sailings owing to the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday period, the outbreak of COVID-19 has only put the number on the higher side.

Photo by Thais Morais on Unsplash

A list of blank sailings for Maersk & MSC can be found at the News & Advisories page of the respective webpages of the shipping lines. A few are shared below, for your quick reference.



Additionally, shipping lines like CMA CGM and COSCO have announced waiver of Demurrage & Detention fees owing to the virus outbreak.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of China as they continue to battle this threatening outbreak.

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