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Trans-Tasman Trade Still Suffering from Service Issues

There are significant and continuing service issues occurring on services between Australia and New Zealand on both West and East bound services.

ACA International has regularly reported on the congestion and delay occurring to port operations in Auckland caused by increased import activity, failures in the roll out of their semi-automated terminal operations and an ongoing shortage of labour caused largely by an inability for labour, sourced from Pacific nations, to enter New Zealand due to COVID 19 restrictions.  Sea-Intelligence a globally recognized global supply chain analyst has reported deteriorating reliability performance in the two main ports Auckland and Tauranga.  In August 2020 they reported 70% schedule reliability, that means 70% of ships were turning up to ports on time, in November 2020 it had fallen to 8.87% reliability over both ports and by April 2021 schedule reliability had fallen to 5.56% in Auckland and 5.52% in Tauranga!

Ports in Australia have also seen ongoing falls in reliability due to the re-emergence of protected stop work meetings mainly on Patrick Terminal by the MUA.  Sydney has been particularly impacted with on-window berths averaging 5 days delay and up to 10.5 days on off-window berthing ( i.e. where vessels have arrived after their scheduled window for berthing)

The impact to the dedicated AU/NZ/AU service, TTZ, has been severe.  The service normally operates 52 sailings per year and over the past 12 months its managed only 36 sailings, caused by vessels being delayed awaiting a berth.  This effectively means there has been a 30% reduction in available tonnage to and from New Zealand.  The average full port rotation for vessels on this service is 21 days and it is currently operating at 37 days!

ANL informs that the only lever left to get back close to weekly sailings, is an ongoing series of port omissions and so we expect to see over the coming months smaller ports to be dropped in an effort to regain schedule reliability.

The next biggest service, the PCX service, is a cross trade service that calls Australia, New Zealand, then sails West and East coast of USA before returning back to New Zealand and Australia.  Port congestion on the West Coast of the USA is considerably worse than New Zealand and Australian ports (Oakland has an average wait time of 20 days, Seattle 10 days and Long Beach 7 days).  To counter delay caused through congestion, the West Coast USA service will only call Sydney fortnightly for the next months, reducing the amount of sailings able to accept cargo to New Zealand on its return voyage to USA.

Similarly there has been reduction in service on the ECUSA service from USA to Auckland and so it reduces the amount of available space between New Zealand and Australia .

ZIM Lines introduced a service from Australia to New Zealand earlier this year, however its main purpose is to tranship containers from China and Southeast Asia into New Zealand . This market is performing strongly and priority is given to Asia to New Zealand cargo on this service over Australia to New Zealand cargo and as a result there is regular reduction in allocation of Australian loading cargo on these sailings.

Unfortunately the difficulties on the Australia - New Zealand trade lanes will continue to be very challenging for the rest of the year.

ACA International’s export teams in New Zealand and Australia will continue to work closely with exporters to manage space as best is possible, however there will be continue disruption to schedule and transit time.