The Port of Felixstowe is the largest and busiest in the United Kingdom. It’s well located for worldwide trade and is the closest port to the main European shipping lanes. As such, a huge number of shipping containers carrying goods between Asia and the UK travel through Felixstowe. This means that, in the event that there is an issue, the efficiency of trade is diminished.
Unfortunately, the Port of Felixstowe is currently undergoing some capacity issues. The likelihood of delays being more than a day or two for our customers is pretty low but here’s the lowdown.
Due to numerous changes and unforeseen circumstances this year, the port is struggling to cope with the number of empty containers either in or heading back to the Suffolk location. This has caused what is essentially one big container traffic jam. Vessels are missing their agreed landing slots, inbound and outbound container flows are not coinciding and the already strained work-force is being stretched extremely thin.
So what’s going on? There are three main issues:
- Hanjin Containers. This year, the South-Korean market-leading Hanjin shipping line went bankrupt. After going into financial receivership, the Port of Felixstowe has been holding their containers in the hopes of collecting their debt, but this just means that all the Hanjin containers are taking up a lot of space and disrupting the entry and exit process of containers on the quay.
- A lack of workers. We are now in the run up to the holiday period, where UK businesses are ramping up their imports in time to sell them for Christmas. As a result, the port needs more workers to keep the increasing number of containers moving to their desired location. There was talk a few months back that the major shipping line Maersk may reroute it’s vessels to the newer London Gateway. As a result Felixstowe slowed it’s recruitment and braced itself for the loss of work – however, Maersk never made the switch, which leaves Felixstowe well over 100 staff short.
- Everyone’s stuck. Nobody is getting in – and people are struggling to get out. The port is currently 56,000 TEU (20ft equivalent unit; 1 x 40ft container = 2 TEU) over the limit for empty containers on quay and working hard to get some evacuated. This means that hauliers who have delivered goods to their customer and return to the dock with the empty container are having to wait (their vehicles tied up until they can get the empty containers offloaded). At the same time, while hauliers trying to pick up containers ready for delivery are having to wait around 4 hours to collect these full containers before they can get on their way to the customer.
There are a lot of containers that need to move in and out of the port but there’s not enough space to move them around. All the while, there aren’t enough hands on deck to make sure the usual efficient process is carried out either. The current solution the port has implemented is to halt the influx of containers and try to get the current ones out as quickly as possible.
The majority of the shipping lines we use land at Felixstowe so we may be experiencing some delays. If you’re worried that this might effect you, feel free to contact us. However, if your goods are delayed, the likelihood of the delays being more than a day or two is pretty low.
We apologise for any inconvenience and will keep all customers fully up-to-date..
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