Global logistics crisis boosts smaller UK ports, operator says
LONDON (Reuters) – Global supply chain disruption is changing cargo flows coming into Britain and smaller ports such as Liverpool are benefiting as suppliers look for other ways to route cargoes and minimise disruptions, Liverpool port’s operator said.
Major bottlenecks have formed across the globe in recent months due to a surge in demand for retail goods from people stuck at home under pandemic-related lockdowns and logjams impacting the supply of container ships and boxes to transport cargo.
A shortage of truckers has added to difficulties especially in Britain, which also faces logistics pressures after leaving the European Union as border checks are now required at EU ports.
Container lines have used megaships of some 19,000-20,000 TEUs (20-foot equivalent units), the size of four football fields, to haul consumer goods across the world. But the logjams have meant such vessels have been stuck waiting to load or discharge.
In recent weeks top shipping lines including Maersk and MSC have omitted some UK port calls including Felixstowe in eastern England and diverted cargo onboard bigger ships to European ports to be re-routed onto smaller vessels and “transshipped” back to Britain.
“We are seeing the benefit of these cargoes being transshipped into Europe,” said Mark Whitworth, chief executive of Peel Ports, which operates Liverpool port.
Whitworth added that smaller 1,500 TEU container ships sailing from China had been calling at Liverpool in recent months to speed up deliveries, something that was previously not “economically viable” due to the scale needed and costs involved.
Container freight rates have risen to record levels this year providing shipping lines with their best earnings in years . . . .
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