Coronavirus & Shipping: Air and Ocean Freight Delays, Rates & Cost Increases

23/04/2021

How Coronavirus is Impacting Freight & Potential Shipping Delays
Non-stop demand for ocean freight from Asia to the US continues to overwhelm major US ports, keeping ships waiting outside several major West Coast ports and driving air cargo rates up as importers seek alternatives. 
And just when conditions were starting to improve from Asia to the Mediterranean and Europe, an Evergreen container ship ran aground in the Suez Canal, blocking traffic in both directions. While the huge ship was liberated, global trade is beginning to feel the hit on both  capacity and pricing. It will likely take months to recover completely.
Finally, with retailers still struggling to keep inventory levels up and already looking to get a leg up on peak season, there may be no relief from high costs, long delays, and equipment shortages.
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Ocean freight rate increases and delays
Asia to both US East and West coasts are still experiencing very high volumes and port congestion, pushing factory-to-door delivery times to an average nine weeks compared to four to five.  
Though Asia-US West Coast rates haven’t climbed this week, congestion is still a problem with more than 20 ships now waiting outside Long Beach and Oakland ports.
There likely won’t be any significant easing of demand from Asia to the US before peak season starts in July as retailers hustle to restock inventory and keep up with strong sales.
Other importers are placing peak season orders early to avoid being caught without back-to-school and other seasonal inventories.  The National Retail Federation expects import volumes to be 14% higher this month than in April 2019 and to stay elevated before climbing again this summer. 
In Suez news, releasing the Ever Given may have opened up the lane to other carrier vessels, but the damage was already done.
Two weeks post the blockage, global trade is beginning to feel the hit on both capacity and pricing. Some carriers are warning that critical congestion at major port