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Yantian port back to normal at midnight, container crisis remains

The Port of Yantian is expected to return to normal operations from midnight (00:00, local time) on 24 June, after around a month that the Chinese hub is fighting with challenges caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

Hutchison Ports Yantian has confirmed that all berths, including the West Port area, will essentially resume normal operations and the number of laden gate-in tractors will be increased to 9,000 per day, while the pickup of empty containers and import laden containers remain normal.

Additionally, the arrangements of accepting export laden containers will resume normal with "ETA -7" (within seven days of the vessel’s ETA), according to an announcement.

"With the full support of relevant government departments and on the premise of strict epidemic prevention, Hutchison Ports Yantian has taken proactive measures to steadily resume normal terminal operations," said the port operator in a statement. "Currently, Covid-19 has been effectively under control in the port area, and the operation capacity of the terminals have steadily recovered."

However, the Yantian terminal's return to normal operations will not instantly normalise the situation in the region, according to the container shipping analyst, Lars Jensen, who said, "There is a considerable queue of vessels waiting to be serviced – and the queue can be said to be 'artificially short' with the many port omissions both executed and still planned into July from the carriers."

Jensen, CEO of container consultancy Vespucci Maritime, who has previously predicted that Yantian will need more than 80 days to clear 700,000+ TEU queuing outside its quays along with all the cargo scheduled to call in the coming weeks, noted that "there is a huge backlog of cargo to be handled which essentially is cargo now on top of all the other normal flow of export cargo out of Asia."

In the meantime, Maersk has announced that the schedule reliability remains compromised despite the diminishing queue. "After a six-day stop on export containers, the Port of Yantian is gradually increasing productivity as more workers return and more berths reopen," said the Danish line on 21 June.

Maersk has published the following plan for the remainder of the month, with 19 of its services being impacted.

TradeServicePlan
NEU
AE10 WB
Omit throughout June – will divert to Nansha
NEU
AE6 EB
Omit throughout Jun except for two vessels – check the Hub for more details
NEU
AE6 WB
Omit throughout Jun except for two vessels – check the Hub for more details
NEU
AE7 WB
Omit throughout June
MED
AE11 EB
Ad-hoc omission, close to a bi-weekly cadence
MED
AE11 WB
Omit throughout June except for two vessels – check the Hub for more details
EUR
AE55 WB
Maintain Yantian
USWC
TP6 NB
Maintain Yantian
USWC
TP2 NB
Maintain Yantian
USWC
TP9 NB
Omit throughout June, except for Zim Tianping that will maintain Yantian
USWC
TP1 NB
Omit throughout June, except for MSC Sola that will maintain Yantian
USEC
TP12 HH
Two omissions in June, work ongoing to conclude on future sailings
USEC
TP16 HH
Maintain Yantian. Ad hoc omissions on a bi-weekly cadence
USEC
TP17 HH
Omit throughout June
USEC
TP88 HH
Maintain Yantian, except for Zim Houston that will omit
USEC
TP23 HH
Maintain Yantian, except for 1 omission – check the Hub for more details
SAF
SAFARI SB
Omit throughout June
WCSA
AC2 SB
Omit throughout June
ECSA
X4A WB
Omit throughout June

In its latest update on 21 June, the Singaporean container carrier, Ocean Network Express (ONE) has also noted that the situation seems to be getting improved, but it has added the following confirmed Yantian port omissions.

ServiceVoyageVesselETAContingency
FE3MOL Endowment0051W22 JuneYantian omission confirmed
PS4YM Unanimity0056W23 JuneYantian omission confirmed
PN2Seaspan Amazon0022EBeginning JulyYantian omission confirmed
EC1Hyundai Hope0044E30 JuneYantian omission confirmed
NZJNYK Futago0077S25 JuneYantian omission confirmed
NZJNeokastro0083S6 JulyYantian omission confirmed
PN2Seaspan Amazon0022EBeginning JulyYantian omission confirmed
Antonis Karamalegkos
Managing Editor

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