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Logistics Executive Briefing
Drewry Market Insights

Sailing schedules fall victim to COVID-19


The practice of cancelling sailings on an industrial scale has been, since February, the strategy put in place by the carriers to address the huge volume drop across major container trades globally, since the outbreak of COVID-19.

The cancelled sailing tracker, part of the Drewry Coronavirus Hub, provides weekly insights for shippers, freight forwarders and NVOCC helping them to face the daily operational challenges, generated by the uncertainty of the sailing schedules & the continuous decrease of the capacity deployed on the major container shipping routes.


The highest sailing cancellation since the COVID-19 outbreak was in February, registering a spike of 105 cancellations across Transpacific and Asia-North Europe & Mediterranean trades; the lowest was in March, with only 33 cancellations, representing a drop of 69% from the previous month.


The total sailings withdrawn on the Transpacific, Transatlantic & Asia-North Europe/Mediterranean trades in May 2020 is 82 out of 457 scheduled sailings for this period (18%).


The Alliance has the highest number of cancelled sailings during this period (34%), followed by 2M (30%) & Ocean Alliance (21%). The Transpacific Trade is the most affected by the reduction of capacity, with 45 blank sailings, which represents 55% of the total blank sailings in May, followed by Asia-North Europe & Mediterranean trade (34%), and Europe & Mediterranean-North America trade (11%).


Overall the number of cancellations has decreased between April and May by 12%, apart from the Transpacific trade, where we see an increase of cancelled sailings of 32%.

Figure 1: The Blank Sailings Tracker by major carriers, May 2020

Figure 1: The Blank Sailings Tracker by major carriers, May 2020

Figure 2: The Blank Sailings Tracker by major trade lanes

Figure 2: The Blank Sailings Tracker by major trade lanes

Drewry believes that carriers will continue their practice of large-scale cancellations of sailings for months and suggests to shippers and forwarders that they not only check carefully the situation before booking but also extend their lead times in case of operational delays.


In order to support our clients further, Drewry can provide a customised report covering the specific needs of each of our clients, by offering a thorough study, scrutinising specific trade lanes. For further information on access to the combined Waiting Time and Cancellations report and/or our ocean freight research services, contact us at


For any information on the issues raised in this briefing, please contact:
Philip Damas


T +44 (0)20 7538 0191


Drewry Supply Chain Advisors, 15-17 Christopher St, London, EC2A 2BS, United Kingdom



Philip Damas

Philip Damas

Director, Head of Drewry Supply Chain Advisors

Industry at a glance

World Container Index

East-West composite ($/40ft)

Bunker Prices

Rotterdam ($/tonne)

Global Port Throughput

Jan 2012 = 100

Idle Capacity

('000 teu)