Two of the world’s largest container shipping companies, Maersk and MSC, have unveiled a series of vessel cancellations in anticipation of China’s Golden Week, a significant national holiday that is set to disrupt cargo flows and impact global trade routes. The cancellations are attributed to an expected dip in demand during this holiday period and ongoing port congestion challenges.

Maersk, a Danish shipping giant, will be implementing five cancellations on its North European routes. The affected services include the AE1 from Ningbo, AE10 from Shanghai, AE7 from Yantian, AE6 from Shekou, and AE8 from Xingang. These cancellations will allow Maersk to recalibrate its operations to match the anticipated drop in cargo volumes during Golden Week.

Meanwhile, MSC, based in Geneva and a member of the 2M alliance, has announced the most extensive series of cancellations. They will affect not only their services but also those of their alliance partner, Maersk. MSC’s cancellations will include 11 sailings on various routes, such as the Swan, AE55/Griffin, AE7/Condor, and AE6/Lion services from Asia to North Europe, spanning from week 37 to 42 inclusive. Additionally, five sailings from Asia to the Mediterranean, covered by their Dragon, Tiger, and Phoenix loops, will be canceled from weeks 39 to 41.

The primary driving factors behind these cancellations are twofold:

  1. Anticipated Decline in Demand: Golden Week is one of China’s most significant holidays, resulting in the closure of numerous factories and businesses. This pause in activity typically leads to a decrease in cargo volumes, prompting carriers like Maersk and MSC to adjust their schedules accordingly.
  2. Ongoing Port Congestion: Ports in Asia are already grappling with congestion issues due to high demand. The additional surge in cargo anticipated during Golden Week could exacerbate the situation. The carriers aim to mitigate congestion and improve cargo flow through these cancellations.

While these cancellations are strategic for the shipping companies, they are likely to pose challenges for shippers. They will need to seek alternative means to transport their cargo, potentially incurring higher costs and facing delays that could disrupt their supply chains.

Both Maersk and MSC are hopeful that these cancellations will be temporary measures to address the short-term challenges posed by Golden Week and port congestion. However, should the decline in demand persist, it remains a possibility that these cancellations may be extended.

As the shipping industry navigates this period of disruption, shippers, carriers, and port authorities alike will be closely monitoring the situation, with an eye on a potential return to normalcy once Golden Week concludes.