In Focus: The Space Race Continues

With consumption back on the menu, space is once again the hottest commodity. Many markets remain incredibly tight this July, affecting all routes out of Asia but especially the traditional flashpoint – the Transpacific trade route. Despite carriers adding capacity, vessels are full for the whole month of July .

All of this despite  the global fleet reaching a historical level of 30 million TEUs, with an addition of 10 million TEUs in the past seven years. Port congestion remains problematic, with challenges persisting in Singapore and Colombo, affecting feeder vessel connections.

The rail solution from China remains 40% higher than ocean freight, with a strong increase in volumes month-on-month. 90% of the volumes are high value commodities and 10% are urgent shipments.

  • Demand was strong in June, prompting carriers to continue rate increases into July. Vessels are full for the next 2-3 weeks instead of the usual 3-4 weeks​​​​. 
  • The supply chain is facing a significant challenge with space constraints across all trades ex Asia, particularly in TP (Transpacific) where vessels are fully booked for July​​.
  • Congestion at key transshipment hubs such as Singapore and Colombo remains problematic. Feeder vessels face issues connecting on time, leading to delays and operational disruptions​​.
  • Equipment resupply is improving but still affects live bookings. Some carriers report increased availability of equipment, which may help alleviate the situation if demand decreases.

Central China to Europe (SHA/NGB):

  • Shanghai (SHA): Space for air exports is better due to lower booking volumes of e-commerce cargo. Rates fluctuate frequently, with an expected increase in capacity from EU passenger planes. It is suggested to book space at least one week in advance​​, since rates will vary based on FBA volumes.
  • Ningbo (NGB): Rates have increased slightly, with final rates dependent on actual flight checks. It is recommended to check space and spot rates at least 4-5 days prior to the cargo ready date​​.

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

  • Tianjin (TSN): Rates are stable compared to last week. The market is tight, and space is fully booked until the weekend. KE rates remain the same, while OZ accepts bookings case-by-case​​.
  • Dalian (DLC) / Beijing (PEK): Rates with most airlines remain unchanged. Dense cargo can apply for spot rates, but volume cargo needs to be booked 7-10 days in advance, with acceptance of flight splits. Hot weather is affecting loading capacity​​
  • Qingdao (TAO): The market is stable this week, with space available, though tight on direct flights to London Heathrow. Rates remain similar to last week, with spot rates available for dense cargo​​.

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

  • Guangzhou (CAN): The market is stable  though specific airline space is tight, and rates should be checked case-by-case according to actual flight dates​​.
  • Shenzhen (SZX): The market is stable this week. All shipments need to be checked with carriers case-by-case. 
  • Xiamen (XMN): The market remains stable, though all shipments need to be checked with carriers on a case-by-case basis, and final rates are dependent on actual bookings​​.


  • Recent data from the US Census Bureau for April 2024 showed stable sales and inventory levels, providing no early warning of the sudden spike in container bookings in May. This explains why the unexpected demand surge has been so disruptive.
  • The market to the USA remains very hot, with high demand leading to tight space availability. Rates have continued to increase across the board, with FAK rates showing sharp increases. Congestion has slightly improved but remains an issue at several ports.

Central China to USA (SHA/NGB)

  • Shanghai (SHA) to USA: Still a very hot market. While Independence day has caused a slight lull, the weekend is expected to ramp up, especially to SFO, LAX. Rates predicted to increase. 
  • Ningbo (NGB) to USA: The market is stable, with a recommendation to book 4-5 days prior of cargo ready date to check space and spot rates.

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

  • Tianjin (TSN) to USA: While rates remain stable, the market is tighter compared to last week with potential for weather to affect loading capacity.
  • Dalian (DLC) / Beijing (PEK) to USA:  Rates remain stable, with spot rates for dense cargo are available, but space needs to be booked at least 10 days in advance.
  • Qingdao (TAO) to USA: Market stable, with some carriers tighter than others. For those with time, options via PEK to the US can supply more capacity.

South China to USA (CAN/SZX/XMN)

  • Guangzhou (CAN) to USA: Space available on some airlines, but conditions are variable, so advised to check spot rates and capacity on a case by case basis
  • Shenzhen (SZX) to USA: Stable rates, but case-by-case checks advised.
  • Xiamen (XMN) to USA:  Space available but final pricing subject to confirmation for each shipment.


  • Capacity and Rates: The market from the Indian Subcontinent to Europe is facing severe disruption. Multiple carriers have temporarily stopped accepting bookings in certain parts of India and also in Bangladesh due to a severe backlog in bookings.
  • Port Congestion: Heavy congestion is reported at transshipment ports such as Singapore (SGSIN), Port Klang (MYPKL), and Colombo (LKCMB). This congestion has led to rolls, backlogs, and delays​​​​.
  • Equipment Issues: There is a significant lack of equipment, especially 20ft containers, across the region, with 40ft containers becoming increasingly scarce in Bangladesh and Tuticorin. Smaller carriers like SCI are being utilised to manage shipments
  • Port Congestion: Northern Europe ports are stable, but there are equipment issues in Southern and Eastern Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic, and Switzerland. The Western Mediterranean is experiencing congestion and equipment issues at key ports, along with reduced schedule reliability. The Eastern Mediterranean faces similar challenges, with congestion impacting operations from Turkey, Greece, and Egypt​​.
  • Operational Challenges: Some carriers have announced equipment imbalance and operational charges due to increased costs on routes from the Mediterranean to the US.


  • Los Angeles/Long Beach: Currently, one vessel is waiting to berth with a 7-day dwell on the rail terminals. Yard capacity is at 68%, which has reduced by 20% from two weeks ago​​.
  • Oakland: No change in the situation, with 6 vessels waiting to berth and a 5-day rail dwell time​​.
  • Seattle/Tacoma: No vessels are currently waiting to berth​​.
  • New York/New Jersey: Four vessels are waiting to berth with a 5-day dwell on the rail. Yard capacity is at 69%​​.
  • Savannah: Experiencing vessel bunching with 10 vessels waiting and a 2-day dwell. Bunching is expected to continue for the coming weeks​​.
  • Charleston: Heavily congested due to dock construction at the Wando Welch Terminal, reducing berth space from 3 to 2 through Q1 2025​​.



Antwerp, Belgium:

  • PSA 913: Yard functionality has been fully restored following last year’s crane collapse incident. Utilisation remains high at 80-85%, with reefers at 75-80%​​.
  • PSA 869: Yard utilisation is at 80-85%, with reefer utilisation at 65-70%​​.
  • AGW (Antwerp Gateways): Yard utilisation is at 50-55%, with reefer plugs utilisation at 50-55%, indicating lower activity levels compared to other yards​​.

Rotterdam, The Netherlands:

  • ECT: Yard utilisation is stable at 70-75%, driven partly by yard block maintenance. Operations remain unaffected​​.
  • RWG: Utilisation is robust at 75-80%, with no operational challenges reported, suggesting efficient management and operation.

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.

July 3 – Belarus

July 5 – Czech Republic, Isle of Man, Slovakia

July 6 – Czech Republic, Lithuania

July 11 – Belgium

July 12 – UK (United Kingdom)

July 13 – Montenegro

July 14 – France

July 21 – Belgium

July 25 – Spain*

Aug 5 – Croatia, Ireland (Eire), Spain*

Aug 15 – Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, France, Germany*, Greece, Italy, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain

Aug 16 – Romania*

Aug 19 – Hungary

Aug 20 – Estonia, Hungary

Aug 29 – Slovakia

*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.

Get In Touch