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Carriers continue to respond positively to the dismal schedule reliability of 2018, as all 15 of the world’s largest liner operators report improvements in the second quarter of 2019.

Container shipping’s reliability has come under increasing scrutiny from customers. However, there are signs carriers are getting their act together, with new figures showing improvements across the board.

Unreliable services have become almost a staple of the industry, with late vessel arrivals the norm, a scenario causing untold headaches for the shipper community that depend on carriers to provide a reliable service to suit supply chain needs.

Despite growing shipper concerns at a time when the curation of alliances and consolidation were supposed to bring much-needed service stability, the industry posted its worst 12 months for reliability in 2018 on record since analysts Sea-Intelligence started collecting calling data eight years ago.

Fortunately, carriers have started 2019 on the right footing, with first quarter improvements preceding further good news in the second.

The latest data published by Sea-Intelligence shows that the world’s 15 largest lines were ‘on-time’ — judged as plus or minus 24 hours of scheduled arrival, 80.1% of the time in the second quarter of 2019, an 8.2 percentage point improvement over the past year.

Furthermore, four carriers recorded advances in reliability of double-digit percentage point proportions. Maersk’s Hamburg Süd earned the title of the biggest individual improvement in performance with reliability up by 14.2 percentage points, while HMM (13.7), Zim (11.7) and Hapag-Lloyd (10.2) were the others to note strong gains. OOCL recorded the lowest year-on-year improvement in the three months ending June 30, up 2.6 percentage points.

There was also good news stemming from the performance of the carrier alliances. The trio all reported sharp increases in second quarter reliability.

Vessels under the guise of 2M arrived at their destination as scheduled 80.2% of the time, a 16.4 percentage point improvement over 2018, while The Alliance and Ocean Alliance saw schedule reliabilities improve respectively by 10.1 68.3% and 4.6 percentage points to 77.2%.

And in a further indication that carriers are responding to the misgivings of shippers, schedule reliability was also up on all six of the east-west trades. Carriers operating on the transatlantic trade saw the biggest improvement in on time performance, up by 9.8 percentage points on westbound routes and 9.3 percentage points on east bound routes. Transpacific and Asia-Europe routes were also more in tune with schedules in the second quarter compared with 2018, according to Sea-Intelligence.

The latest figures, while positive, do however come from a particularly low base, but these are improvements nonetheless, and a welcome step in the right direction, even if there is clear room for improvement.



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