In Focus: A Long Term Capacity Crunch

With overall idling well below 1% of the world’s 29.90 MTEU of cellular vessel capacity, the global liner fleet can be considered ‘fully employed’. This near-total utilisation leaves little room for flexibility, and the resulting scarcity has driven a sharp increase in charter rates, particularly for shorter-term fixtures. The message is clear: every available vessel is needed, and needed urgently.

Higher-than-expected cargo volumes are placing additional strain on the supply chain, further compounded by the reemergence of congestion at several key ports. The ongoing diversions around the Cape of Good Hope add another layer of complexity, effectively ‘inflating’ tonnage demand. 

A Sea Intelligence model examining the global supply-demand balance predicts a peak in 2024 that could rival the disruptions seen during the pandemic. The current rising rates are a direct result of this sudden tightness. Port congestion and vessel delays exacerbate the situation, absorbing capacity that would otherwise meet the burgeoning demand.

Currently, 6.3% of global vessel capacity is tied up in port congestion, a significant increase from the 2% typical in a normal market. During the height of the pandemic, this figure soared to 11.1% in 2021. If congestion in Asian ports remains unresolved, the market pressure in 2024 could escalate even further, with carriers existing conditions to continue through peak season and into October.

  • The Asia-Europe route is experiencing strong demand, with volumes increasing  from May to June. This trend is expected to continue into July​​.
  • Rates have seen a sharp increase,  with carriers reacting to the strong market by adding new standalone services and increasing General Rate Increases (GRIs) and Peak Season Surcharges (PSS)​​.
  • Space is fully booked until the end of June, with a high likelihood that this situation will persist into July​​ since carriers have significant backlogs, with an estimated 20,000 TEUs missing per week from the market​​, while equipment shortages continue to affect the majority of carriers, particularly in key Asian ports such as Yantian and Ningbo.

Central China to Europe (SHA/NGB):

  • SHA:The market is dominated by e-commerce cargo, leading to slightly increased rates. The booking outlook is positive with rates stable in the near term, but also highly affected by FBA volumes.
  • NGB:Rates remain stable but depend on flight availability. Bookings should be checked on a case-by-case basis for the best spot rates​​, with a recommendation of booking 4-5 days prior to the cargo ready date to check space and spot rate.

North China to Europe (TSN/DLC/PEK/TAO):

  • TSN: Rates are significantly higher than recent weeks and fluctuating, with tight market conditions compared to last week. Competitive rates are available from specific airlines but require advance booking​​.
  • DLC/PEK: Rates are fluctuating with most airlines. Dense cargo can apply for spot rates, and bookings should be made well in advance due to tight space​​. High volume cargo needs booking  7-10 days ahead to book and accept flight split.

South China to Europe (CAN/SZX/XMN):

  • CAN: The market is calmer with potential for discounts, though a large volume of e-commerce shipments may soon be inbound. Prices are subject to spot rate checks based on actual flight dates​​.
  • SZX: Market conditions are normal with all shipments requiring carrier checks case by case​​, with potential for price increases if the market remains hot.
  • XMN: E-commerce volumes are growing, with price increases predicted. Final rates will need to be checked case by case upon real booking on actual flight.     
  • Capacity remains extremely tight across all Asia-USA routes, with significant constraints expected to persist. The strong demand is driven by peak season preparations and restocking activities​​​​.
  • Port congestion is high, with some improvements noted on the US West Coast. Specific ports like Los Angeles/Long Beach are experiencing delays, with 1 vessel waiting to berth and a 7-day dwell time on rail terminals​​​​.

Central China to USA (SHA/NGB)

  • SHA: The market is stable with FBA cargo dominating. Rates have generally stayed the same, or slightly decreased, and are predicted to decrease once ecommerce cargo has moved.
  • NGB: Rates remain stable with advisory to book 4-5 days in advance and final prices confirmed on a case by case basis.

North China to USA (TSN/DLC/PEK/TAO)

  • TSN: Rates from Korean Airlines have increased – space is tight and advanced booking is essential. Competitive rates from Japan Airlines are available for volume cargo.
  • DLC/PEK: Rates with most airlines are increasing, with dense cargo applying for spot rates. Booking needs to be done 10 days in advance due to tight space​​.
  • TAO: The market is stable with some space available and only slightly increased rates. Spot rates are available for dense cargo on a case-by-case basis​​, with options for extra capacity if shippers can manage a longer transit time.

South China to USA (CAN/SZX/XMN)

  • SZX: Rates have increased slightly this week. All shipments need to be checked with the carrier case by case.
  • XMN: The market is stable, but e-commerce cargo is increasing, potentially raising costs​​.


  • Demand remains stable from North Europe, with carriers maintaining their current rate levels through July. However, there are equipment shortages in Southern and Eastern Germany, as well as Austria, Hungary, and Slovakia​​​​.
  • The Western Mediterranean market is facing  congestion and equipment shortages at key ports, coupled with reduced schedule reliability. In response to demand, carriers are planning to implement GRIs and Peak Season Surcharges (PSS) starting in July​​​​.
  • In contrast, the Eastern Mediterranean has good equipment availability and no significant congestion at the ports, leading to smooth operations without major disruptions​​​​.


  • Los Angeles/Long Beach: 3 vessels waiting to berth and 7 day dwell on the rail heads
  • Oakland: 6 vessels waiting, 5 day dwell on rail terminals
  • Seattle/Tacoma: Zero vessels waiting
  • Vancouver (Canadian West Coast): 1 vessel waiting with a 6 day dwell on the rail. 50% yard capacity, showing improvement
  • PRR: 0 vessels waiting with a 8 day dwell on the rail. 88% yard capacity.
  • NY/NJ: 3 vessels waiting with a 3 day dwell on rail heads. 69% yard capacity.
  • Norfolk: 6 vessels waiting with a 3 day dwell on the rail.
  • Savannah: 4 vessels waiting to berth and 2 day dwell on the rail head.




  • PSA 913: Yard utilisation at 85% – 90%. Reefers at 80% – 85%.
  • PSA 869: Yard utilisation at 75% – 80%. Reefers at 40% – 45%. Empties at 60% – 65% utilisation.

AGW: Vessel turnaround affected by major oil spill cleanup in progress, causing several delays for arrival and departure. Yard utilisation at 55% – 60%. Reefers at 90% – 95%. Empties at 50% – 55%. Terminal will work through the vessel backlog caused by the oil spill.


  • ECT: Yard utilisation at 70% – 75%. Empty and reefer stocks under control.

RWG: Utilisation at 70% – 75%. Terminal had to temporarily stop operations due to high winds at the beginning of the week.

United Kingdom

European Bank Holidays

We anticipate a shortage of availability and the occurrence of delays around the bank holiday periods. Plan ahead and allow extra time for your products to be delivered.

June 18 – North Cyprus, Türkiye

June 19 – North Cyprus, Türkiye

June 21 – Finland*, Greenland*, Sweden*, Åland

June 22 – Croatia, Finland, Sweden, Åland

June 23 – Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Romania, Switzerland*, Ukraine

June 24 – Andorra*, Cyprus, Estonia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Spain*

June 25 – Slovenia

June 28 – Bosnia and Herzegovina

June 29 – Vatican City, Italy*, Malta, Switzerland*

*Not in all regions

The route ahead

The information that is available in the Zencargo Market Update comes from a variety of online sources, partners and our own teams. Click below to learn more about how Zencargo can help make your supply chain your competitive advantage.

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