Sea-air ‘barely viable’ as port congestion hits

The sea-air option is becoming less feasible for shippers looking for a faster route due to congestion at important transhipment points. Nick Coverdale, director and founder of Aeromar Sea Air, explained that there is congestion at ocean transit points such as Port Klang and Singapore. At Jebel Ali, delays are up to seven days from vessel arrival to berthing. Additionally, there are ongoing issues at Freight Gate 5 in Dubai International Airport, in case Emirates Airlines are not being used.

Freight Gate 5, operated by Dnata, has previously experienced congestion issues. However, Dnata informed The Loadstar that each Dnata cargo facility at Dubai International Airport is currently operating normally with no congestion.

Jebel Ali is a major hub for sea-air transhipment and is increasingly popular with shippers who want to avoid extra transit times around the Cape of Good Hope (CGH).

Xeneta informed The Loadstar that this port is highly congested due to an increase in vessel traffic redirected from the Red Sea. The average vessel waiting time is around three days over seven days. All terminals have high yard density, which reduces productivity and increases delays to inter-terminal transfers.

Dammam, a transit port for cargo avoiding the Bab Al-Mandeb, is also congested due to increased vessel traffic redirected from the Red Sea, according to Xeneta’s chief analyst, Peter Sand. The average vessel waiting time is similar to that in Jebel Ali. All terminals have high yard density, reducing productivity and increasing delays to inter-terminal transfers – characteristics that are also present in the port of Jebel Ali.

The current port congestion is causing delays for transhipment. Mr Sand mentioned that using alternative routes to bypass the congestion is always under consideration. However, he cautioned that all water shipments come with significantly extended transit times.

Flexport recommends limiting sea-air conversion shipment size to 15-20 cubic meters to facilitate access to aircraft capacity and reduce the risk of split arrivals. Due to market congestion, Arno Hausch of Flexport emphasized the importance of splitting containers into four or five airfreight shipments for sea-to-air conversions.