“FOR us, this is a much bigger disruption than the Ever Given getting stuck in the Suez Canal because of the duration and the importance of Yantian.”

So said Maersk CEO of ocean and logistics Vincent Clerc during a press briefing on Tuesday evening.

Delays and congestion have been plaguing Yantian International Container Terminal and the wider Shenzhen Port after the Chinese government imposed restrictions to curb a COVID-19 outbreak there.

Mr Clerc said Maersk was experiencing vessel delays of 16 days outside of Yantian, which is causing significant ripple effect across the network from a reliability perspective.

“More than delays, … we will see lost sailings, which will only compound the congestion that we’re seeing,” he said.

“With 16 days of delay, it’s going to take two weeks to get back to where you should be; that will create holes in our ability to provide weekly services to customers with the capacity that they need.

“What we’re looking at right now is how much can we divert, how much cargo can we get through other ports in the Pearl River Delta, how can we try to keep the customers as immune as possible to these changes.”

Maersk Asia Pacific managing director Ditlev Blicher echoed Mr Clerc saying Yantian was operating at about 40% capacity and the company expects significant delays for the next month at least.

“In the hinterland we also have significant constriction around land transport operations as we are directing our clients to try to utilise other ports in the market,” he said.

“We’re also foreseeing significant tightness on equipment – containers specifically for exports from China.”

Mr Blicher said Maersk was encouraging its clients to be open to using different types of equipment, such as 20-foot containers, instead of 40-footers.

“We’re trying to build in alternatives to routing to Yantian port, but that puts additional pressure on equipment availability in the other ports.”