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Red Sea detours will prolong transit times by 30%

If all container shipping routes along the Red Sea take detours round the Cape of Good Hope, transit times could jump by 30%, according to consultancy Linerlytica’s report.

Taiwan’s three main liner operators Evergreen Marine Corporation, Yang Ming Marine Transport and Wan Hai Lines, issued customer advisories on 18 December, saying that they are joining their peers in suspending shipments to Israel and moving Red Sea transits to the Cape of Good Hope.

Ship owners, concerned with increasingly frequent missile strikes at all kinds of vessels in the Red Sea, by Houthi rebels, have felt compelled to move their vessels away from the area.

Linerlytica opined that more non-Israel-linked ships could join the Red Sea exodus after Maersk, MSC, CMA CGM, Hapag-Lloyd and HMM announced in the past week that they would pause their ships’ journeys in the Red Sea. The alternative route via the Cape would raise round trip transit times by three to five weeks, with ships to the East Mediterranean having to make the longest diversions.

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The last three weeks have seen 42 Israeli-linked ships rerouted away from the Suez Canal, according to Linerlytica. Twenty of these ships on the Asia-Mediterranean and Asia-North Europe routes will detour round the Cape of Good Hope while another 22 ships have been reassigned to other trades that avoid the Red Sea.

There are 8.25 million TEU of container ships on the Suez route currently, translating into 9.3% of the global fleet.

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Linerlytica said, “If all of these ships are forced to divert from the Suez to the Cape route, it would raise global TEU-mile demand by at least 2.5 million TEU which is equivalent to 9% of the current global fleet. The impact will be higher if vessel speeds are not increased to minimise the schedule delays.”

Martina Li
Asia Correspondent

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