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International Removals Update on the Red Sea

Jan 02. 2024

As members of the British Association of Removers, our industry body have issued this update on the Red Sea and Suez Canal transit:

Due to the attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, shipping lines have in general made the decision to avoid the Suez Canal and the Red Sea with immediate effect, and instead route their vessel around the Cape of Good Hope, causing shippers delays and increased transit times.

Vessels which were already in the area waiting to transit the Suez Canal have been diverted around Africa which will delay their arrival at their final destination. Ships now sailing will also follow this route and suffer an increased transit time of circa 10 to 14 days.

This contingency routing also comes with additional costs for the shipping lines and they have consequently introduced surcharges that the moving companies have no control over. These surcharges have been given various names depending on the shipping line, such as “war risk”, “Equipment or operational recovery” and“PSS” and the amounts levied vary dramatically, but on some routes, they’ve added as much as USD2,500.00 to the shipment cost.

Rerouting of vessels cause further issues for the shipping line, with equipment imbalances, and more vessels being needed to operate the same service. This has meant some shipping lines have made the decision to levy these surcharges on shipments from Europe to the USA, Canada and Mexico, even though these don’t transit the Suez Canal and wouldn’t typically be thought of as affected.

Shipping lines have made it clear these surcharges are for operational disruptions, so it is unlikely they will simply disappear the moment vessels resume transiting the Suez Canal. From current opinion, it will take a minimum of 6-8 weeks once all shipping lines are again transiting the Suez Canal for the operational issues to return to normal and the shipping lines to review the application of these surcharges.

Lastly, this is a very fluid situation, Maersk Line and CMA already tried to resume transit of the Suez Canal only for strikes on their vessels over the weekend to cause them to again pause sailings for an initial 48 hours. However, until the situation is brought fully under control further delays and disruptions are inevitable.

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