Industry Update – March 2024

Attention: Shipping Manager


Situation in the Red Sea

New data shows an acceleration of ships diverting away from the Red Sea since early January this year. Since then, the average daily number of active vessels in the Red Sea has decreased by 40% week-on-week. War risk arrangements for vessels transiting the Red Sea are currently sustainable.

(Source: Freightwaves)


  • Spot rates ease as red sea diversions become routine:

Container rates from Asia to Europe and transpacific began to fall earlier in the month, as carrier networks and equipment balances settle down to the longer transits around the Cape of Good Hope. Experts noticed a consistent decrease in rates almost every day, but surprisingly, the usual pre-Chinese New Year demand was lacking this year.

(Source: Loadstar)


Situation in USA

  • Water level projections threaten future Panama Canal transits:

Dry season in Panama is in full swing, and the impacts to trade through the Panama Canal will remain challenged in the months to come.  In recent months, attacks on ships at the Red Sea have prompted many vessel owners to take longer routes to and from Asia, increasing demand for transit through Panama.

The situation in the canal, after a wetter-than-expected end to last year, wasn’t as dire as many believed, allowing the number of daily transits to increase in January. However, experts say the water levels are going to remain a challenge that has potential to continue to derail vessel throughput.



  • Threat of strike looms large over East and Gulf Coast ports:

The labour contract between the International Longshoremen’s Association and the United States Maritime Alliance (USMX) is set to expire at the end of September. Contract negotiations between the ILA and the USMX began in February 2023, but quickly foundered on the issue of wage increases. Developments since then have not been promising. In November, ILA leadership warned roughly 45,000 of its members to “prepare for the possibility of a coastwide strike in October 2024,” after the current master contract expires. Hopes continue that positive negotiations can be facilitated between the two parties.

(Source: Freightwaves)


  • Large wildfires disrupting travel across the US Southwest:

A cluster of wildfires that began last month in the Texas Panhandle have been making travel difficult for truckers and motorists. Texas authorities have temporarily closed highways between the border and Amarillo and have urged motorists to avoid travelling through roadways in the area due to excessive smoke.  As of last week, 5 wildfires were burning across the region, causing large logistics delays, which are expected to last until the situation improves.

(Source: Freightwaves)


Situation in Asia

  • Asia-Europe Sea and Air hubs record strong surge:

Several key Asia-Europe sea/air hubs have recorded a strong surge in tonnages in the last few weeks.  Shippers continue to seek alternative logistics solutions due to the disruptions to container shipping, caused by the attacks on ships in the Red Sea. Freight sources have reported that some Asia-Europe sea/air hubs such as Dubai, Colombo and Bangkok have been inundated with air cargo in recent weeks, up 50% by comparison to this time last year, as cargo owners seek to replenish stocks in Europe that have run low.

(Source: Asia Cargo News)


Strike action still ongoing at DP World Brisbane

Electricians at DP World Brisbane terminal continue to stop work as they strike for a better pay deal. The Electrical Trades Union wants its’ workers awarded the same pay increases as the Maritime Union of Australia received for its’ clients earlier last month.  A spokesperson mentioned that container landside logistics through the terminal continue to be severely interrupted by the industrial dispute, also impacting on the maintenance and the reliability of the ‘automatic stacking cranes’ used to load and unload trucks.

(Source: DCN)


Delays with Import Document Assessment Delays continuing

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry have recently acknowledged the delays in documentation processing and the strategies they are implementing to cope with this. See below excerpt for an outline of their processes:-

The department is implementing strategies to assist with the management of workload. These include:

  • Undertaking planned recruitment processes with the aim to onboard 75 assessment officers nationally.
  • Reviewing the risk associated with various commodities coming into Australia. This results in a lower referral rate and less intervention for a number of commodities while maintaining a strong and effective biosecurity system.
  • Temporarily diverting workforce capacity to document assessment functions.
  • Reimplementing peak period strategies to provide maximum capacity with available resources.
  • Better managing requests for document assessments outside of business hours, which continue to be facilitated subject to capacity. Requests are currently exceeding 1200 per week.

In the meantime, we are continuing to see processing times of 7-10 days with documentation lodged with DAFF.  This can adversely affect container collections from the wharf and deliveries.  Unfortunately, these delays are beyond our control.


General Rate Increase from Mediterranean/Europe to Australia/New Zealand

We received notifications this month from some shipping lines in regards to a General Rate Increase from Mediterranean/Europe to Australia/New Zealand, details as follows:

Effective from 1st March 2024:

USD 200/20’

USD 400/40’

LCL will increase accordingly.


Sydney Timeslot Booking Fee Increase

Destination Timeslot Booking Fee in Sydney has increased to AUD 80, effective immediately.


We will keep you updated with any further information.