News & Insights

Blank sailings cause disruption, and delays continue in New Zealand ports

21 Mar 2023

With major sailing lines announcing blank sailings to Australian ports, and the continuation of delays in New Zealand, March has seen widespread disruption in shipping.

We also saw new concept plans unveiled by NSW Ports this month for potential port facilities in the Outer Harbour.

Severe weather conditions in New Zealand continue to affect Trans-Tasman trade

New Zealand’s severe weather conditions have continued to affect the Trans-Tasman trade, especially via the Auckland Tauranga ports – primarily through an effect on vessel windows, landside logistics, and empty container parks.

Reports indicate berth congestion with consistent delays of 3-5 days depending on vessel bunching.

Shipping updates and news in March 2023

1. Major shipping lines choose to schedule blank sailings, skipping Australian ports. Hutchison Ports, one of Australia’s biggest terminal operators, expects to see delays of four months with the withdrawal of sailings to its two terminals in Sydney and Brisbane.

“This is a prime example of persistent market failure in Australia’s supply chains,” said MUA National Secretary Paddy Crumlin. With Australia at the far end of global supply chains, the economy is no stranger to blank sailings causing disruption to the waterfront industry.

Find out more about the situation here.

2. Delays in the clearance of consignments in China. As a result of system issues affecting the eCert system, many consignments have been detained in China. The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry has been able to achieve release through discussions.

Read the details here.

3. Large-scale port facility to be built at Port Kembla’s Outer Harbour. NSW Ports, the holder of long-term leases for Port Kembla and Port Botany, has unveiled concept plans for port facilities in the Outer Harbour.

The project provides an opportunity for significant job creation, domestic innovation, and carbon emissions reduction.

4. Freight rates ease, bringing much-needed relief. In recent years, freight rates have been on a persistent increase. Finally, these rates are easing, bringing relief to Australian importers and exporters.

There remains some apprehension around how long the rates will remain low and whether the response of major shipping lines will be to increase blank sailings.

5. Empty container issue continues to plague the shipping world. As of the week of Feb 5th, the Container Availability Index (CAx) rose to 0.64, indicating that more containers are entering ports than leaving them.

If you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with your MYC liaison or call us on +61 8 9253 0121.