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Congestion Leads to Significant Delays in Trans-Tasman Container Movements

Eastbound and Westbound service between Australia and New Zealand are suffering from the significant congestion caused in New Zealand and also persistent congestion on USA to New Zealand and Australia routes.

There have been many articles and news-alerts released by the New Zealand Government and port authorities that validate the issues on the ground.

As reported during last year the tragic fatality in the Auckland port caused a review of the operation while the incident was being investigated. The findings of the Construction Health and Safety New Zealand (CHASNZ) have been handed down and it will result in ongoing restructure of operations in the terminal.

Delays in berthing and processing containers in Auckland ports have significantly widened as previously advised due to half-finished automation programme, requiring a return to manual operations. It has been reported by Ports of Auckland that it has been only using a third of its crane capacity and has been unable to fully use the automation because overseas engineers were unable to enter the countries due to border closures.

Recently Hapag-Lloyd, Maersk, Hamburg Süd and MSC announced it would remove Auckland from their jointly operated Oceania-US east coast service in an effort to gain schedule integrity.

Vessels are currently waiting up to five days for a berth, with delays to pick up containers of 9.4 days after scheduled arrival, according to Ports of Auckland data.

The TTZ service operated by ANL continues to call into Auckland however they have continued to lose a sailing per month and have significant roll pool in Auckland for the Westbound service. It has been reported at 4000 TEU and that means 3 to 4 weeks of backlog. The same issues are impacting the Eastbound service from Australia to New Zealand.

In attempt to improve the schedule they are dropping smaller ports on every other sailing.

Tauranga is the largest gateway port into New Zealand but it has also been significantly impacted by the congestion in Auckland. The Authority reported that the average cargo exchange per container vessel was 21% higher in December 2020 compared with December 2019, due to the cargo bypassing Auckland and those trends have continued into 2021.

The rail linking Tauranga to Auckland is under terrible stress with the diversions and the delays to move between the two locations beyond 14 days.

Shipping lines have used other options such as diverting in-transit from Auckland and discharging inbound containers at Mount Maunganui, some 200 kilometres north of Auckland and they will continue take corrective action to try to restore schedules and minimize delay.

The entire situation has been exacerbated by ongoing strong demand for import and export containers into and out of New Zealand.

Unfortunately, the situation is will not improve in the short term and so we will continue to see delays in transit and frustratingly very short notice actions by carriers.

ACA International export and import customer service teams will continue to work hard to keep you informed of the changes effecting sailings and look to alternative solutions to move freight.