FAQ: delays on transatlantic (TA) services between North America and North Europe
Due to widespread disruptions on the North America and North Europe networks since early 2022, we have been forced to make frequent adjustments to our transatlantic (TA) services, including resetting schedules.
Our contingency plans are already in operation to minimise disruption for our customers and we will communicate further actions with you as soon as possible to give you optimum visibility on the situation. Do not hesitate to reach out to your local Customer Experience representative if you have any questions and continue to visit this FAQ page for the latest updates.
External Q&A in connection with current delays on transatlantic services between North America and North Europe.
The current situation is caused by a combination of issues. Maersk transatlantic (TA) services have been experiencing delays as a result of disruptions across North American and North European networks since early 2022. These include port congestion, terminal congestion, lowered capacity, and lowered landside labour capacity, which have all contributed to bottlenecking and domino disruptions across the global and local supply chain.
This, in turn, has extended waiting times and resulted in a need for vessels to reset.
These delays are caused by a combination of issues that have added stress to an already stretched network. These include:
- Terminal congestion. Widespread and well documented congestion across North American and North European ports. This congestion was and is caused by higher number of vessels than terminal capacity, as well as limited yard space due to long-standing cargo. Demand increases on other routes to both North America and North European terminals has also added further pressure to the networks.
- Waiting times. Where there is congestion, longer waiting times usually follow. This causes operational delays and lengthened waiting times.
- Lowered landside capacity. Earlier this year, lowered capacity of landside transport means, especially truck driver shortages, resulted in bottlenecking of cargo leaving port landside. This issue has affected both the North American side and the European side. Additionally, there are high rail waiting times, adding to further supply chain constraints. Whilst much action has been taken to mitigate this issue, it remains a problem – though no longer at the level it was before.
- Strike action. Major NEU terminals in Germany have been subject to frequent strike action. This has resulted in several stoppages across ocean and intermodal services.
- Increased Demand and influx of transpacific trade. We have seen demand increasing on other routes into both NAM and NEU terminals, as well as the domino effects from an influx of transpacific trade, further adding to congestion levels.
Whilst Maersk has been doing its utmost to alleviate pain points caused by the above situations, each one of these has a chain reaction across the industry, leading to delays. This has resulted in Maersk identifying the need to adjust vessels.
When we say “adjust vessels” we mean we have had to reset vessel. This is because delay gaps become unrealistic to recover. To reset a vessel is when vessels are running behind schedule, and the vessel/voyage needs to be corrected to a more realistic environment.
We are working closely with our partners to find sustainable and long-term solutions to the issues at hand. Each delay is handled individually, where we seek to find the most optimal solutions for our customers and partners.
We understand that this situation is deeply unfortunate to customers and are doing our utmost to alleviate customer pain points. To this, we are implementing short-term solutions where we can. We are also working on long-lasting and sustainable solutions with our partners to ensure we can ease pain points and provide a consistent and reliable transatlantic service.
Currently, we are adding more physical assets in the form of extra vessels to help shorten the distance between departure weeks. These extra vessels will avoid heavily congested terminals, and whilst they will not add new capacity, they will add further capacity to ensure that delays are minimised. This will also minimise flows to the likes of Newark and enable booking diversions at alternative locations (such as Norfolk/Baltimore) where feasible.
In the case of port congestion, we are working to map solutions in the form of alternative ports and areas, procuring extra landside solutions as a support to ensure that delays are minimised. We are reviewing structural contingencies to relieve pressure from schedules and improve the overall network.
We cannot comment on how others are doing their business. To us, it is important to ensure that you have as much information as possible when booking with us. Therefore, when we know there is waiting time outside a port, we make sure to include this in our updated booking times. We do this as we understand how painful and frustrating it can be to have incorrect information when trying to plan and streamline your overall supply chain.
As your integrated end-to-end logistics partner, your supply chain is of the utmost importance to us. We understand that this situation is frustrating and makes supply chain planning cumbersome. Whilst we are working steadfastly to solve these difficulties, there is some action you can take to alleviate some of your pain points:
If your cargo is waiting at the terminals:
Work with your logistics planner and your Maersk representative to ensure that once cargo arrives at port, it can swiftly be moved and/or find alternative transportation means.
If your cargo is currently in transit on Ocean, on its way to terminals:
Work with your logistics planner and your Maersk representative to find alternative routes, utilising rail, truck, barge and possibly air to avoid further disruption to supply chains. It may also make sense to investigate the possibility of changing the destination, as well as looking into the possibility of utilising Maersk’s warehousing options near ports.
We understand that this situation has and is deeply frustrating for all our customers, and we encourage you to reach out to your local Maersk professional. Our customer service and commercial teams are always available to support you, should you need assistance.