In Focus: Vessel utilisation across all trades reaches 90 to 95%

A strong US economy, advance orders compensating for extended lead times, along with the increased number of ships needed to manage the new routings via Good Hope has pushed utilisation back to the 90 to 95% range. 

Rates remain high and are expected to increase significantly in May on the Far- East to Europe route. Over the next two months, carriers may likely maintain high prices. 

Businesses who can best forecast capacity needs and plan ahead will have the edge in securing space and rates in time for the sales rush.

  • Capacity and Rates: Space is full for the majority of May and rates continue to increase. The Cape of Good Hope routings have absorbed the majority of all new capacity and schedule reliability has been impacted by diversions. 

Central China to Europe

  • Shanghai (SHA) to Europe: The market appears stable at the beginning of the week and rates are expected to increase from the weekend. 
  • Ningbo (NGB) to Europe: Rates have decreased this week and the market is stable. 

North China to Europe

  • Tianjin (TSN) to Europe: Rates are high and subject to fluctuations. Space will be tight in May. 
  • Dalian (DLC) / Beijing (PEK) to Europe: Rates are fluctuating this week for most airlines. Space will remain tight in May. 
  • The market from Qingdao (TAO) to Europe is stable this week. Space on direct flights to London Heathrow is tight so it may be hard to arrange space for large volumes.

South China to Europe

  • Guangzhou (CAN) to Europe: The market is calmer with May being less busy especially after Labour Day at the start of the month. 
  • Shenzhen (SZX) to Europe: The market is normal and all shipments need to be checked with carriers on a case-by-case basis. 
  • Xiamen (XMN) to Europe: Market remains the same as last week and all shipments need to be checked with carriers on a case-by-case basis.
  • There have been sharp increases in rates from the whole of South-East Asia on the Transpacific trade. Capacity and space is tight for the first half of May but this may ease for the second half. Please book space 2 – 3 weeks in advance.

Central China to USA

  • Shanghai (SHA) to USA: The market is stable at the beginning of the week and rates are expected to increase from this weekend. 
  • Ningbo (NGB) to USA: Rates are decreasing this week and the market is stable.

North China to USA

  • Tianjin (TSN) to USA: Rates have increased and are fluctuating. Market is tighter compared to last week. For Japan Airlines, please book 10 days in advance. Space will remain tight in May. 
  • Dalian (DLC) / Beijing (PEK) to USA: Rates with most airlines are on the rise this week. Spot rates for dense cargo are available, but space needs to be booked at least 10 days in advance.

South China to USA

  • Guangzhou (CAN) to USA:After the Labour Day holiday, the market is calm and the market in May should be more relaxed. 
  • Shenzhen (SZX) to USA: The market is normal and shipments need to be checked on a case-by-case basis with carriers. 
  • Xiamen (XMN) to USA: The market remains almost the same as last week.


  • Some carriers have announced General Rate Increases (GRIs) for May. The balance between capacity and demand has maintained rate stability on the Transatlantic routes. However, carriers are expecting to introduce further hikes in the coming two months due to this sustained demand and the operational challenges linked to global disruptions affecting container flows​​​​.


  • Los Angeles/Long Beach: There is currently one vessel waiting to berth with a dwell time of 6 days on the rail terminals.
  • Oakland: 3 vessels are waiting to berth with a 6-day dwell time on rail.
  • Norfolk: 5 vessels are waiting to berth with a 2 day dwell on the rail. Yard capacity is currently at 59%. 
  • Savannah: The port is experiencing some backlog with 8 vessels waiting and a 2-day dwell on rail. There is expected delays of 2 weeks due to repair and maintenance.


Here is an update from Hapag-Lloyd on ports in the Benelux region:

  • 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 also 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 operations.
United Kingdom


  • The UK government is launching the third year of the £7m Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator to help SMEs decarbonise freight. 
    • The £1.8 million funding aims to bolster SMEs in implementing state-of-the-art AI technology and automation to enhance the transportation of parcels and goods via trains, lorries, vans, and ships.
    • In its first two years, the fund allocated nearly £3 million to various SMEs. Projects that have been supported include the FedEx trial of new eCargo bikes to deliver parcels quickly to help decarbonise deliveries.


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.

May 7 – Cyprus*, Greece

May 8 – Belgium*, Czech Republic, France, Slovakia

May 9 – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Sweden

May 10 – Belgium*, Denmark*

May 15 – Spain*

May 17 – Spain*

May 18 – Sweden*

May 19 – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany*, Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, Sweden

May 20 – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary Luxembourg, Netherlands

May 24 – Bulgaria

May 30 – Austria, Croatia, Germany*, Poland, Portugal, Spain*

May 31 – Spain*


June 1 – Moldova, Romania

June 2 – Italy, Lithuania

June 3 – Ireland (Eire)

June 5 – Denmark*, Faroe Islands*

June 6 – Sweden

June 7 – Isle of Man, Malta

*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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