The latest IAPH-WPSP Port Economic Impact Barometer indicated overall improvement in capacity utilization. With generalized lockdowns now limited, the return of vessels and the lower numbers of blank sailings continue, yet these happen at a slow pace. As a result, for the first time since starting the measurements in Apr, the percentage of ports reporting that the number of container ships calls corresponds to a normal situation has exceeded the 50% threshold.
A similar reporting percentage has been recorded in the case of calls of vessels carrying other types of cargoes. Some of the ports that experience a decline of the number of container ships calls reported that further improvement is present but not entirely captured (i.e. vessel calls were just over 5% less than normal).
Several ports are certain that in the current conditions and given the numbers of blank sailings of coming weeks they will soon head to almost similar numbers of calls compared to the same period the year before. At the same time, maritime trade volumes have also started to increase, as several economies, or major parts of them, have returned to operations and increased number of transactions.
Meantime, cruise ship calls remain at almost zero levels. However, this might not last long. Cruise lines’ announcements to return to operations have become more frequent than in previous weeks.
To give an example, in the light of recent EU-produced interim advice for restarting cruise ship operations, TUI announced its blue cruises program, where passengers remain on-board and at sea for the entire cruise, embarking and disembarking from Hamburg. Aida has also announced the restarting of few traditional cruises in North Europe. A handful of small cruise vessels are in operation.
On a global scale, 40% of ports in the survey reported no crew changes have taken place in week 29, down from 55% in week 27. In 4 out of 10 ports, a very limited number of crew changes have occurred (less than 5) compared to one third in week 27. When comparing regions, European ports continues to show the best picture in terms of the crew change situation, although almost two thirds of European ports only recorded less than a handful of crew changes in the past week.
In North America, crew changes remain at a low level with 44% of ports indicating there have not been any crew changes in week 29. However, this is a significant improvement compared to the 57% in week 27. The situation in Central and South America has also slightly improved. While there were no reported crew changes in week 27, a number of ports have indicated that crew changes have occurred this week.