COPENHAGEN-based analysts Sea-Intelligence’s latest assessment of global container line schedule reliability has measured a 3.8% improvement for May 2024 month-on-month – but the figure of 55.8% is 11 percentage points worse than May 2023.

“This is now the highest schedule reliability figure for 2024, and 1.2 percentage points higher than the previous highest figure of 54.6%,” founder and CEO Alan Murphy said.

Despite the improvement in schedule reliability, the average delay for LATE vessel arrivals deteriorated, increasing by 0.34 days M/M to 5.10 days. This figure is now inching closer to the pandemic highs than the pre-pandemic lows. On a Y/Y level, the May 2024 figure was 0.73 days higher, Mr Murphy noted.

CMA CGM was the most reliable top-13 carrier in May 2024 with schedule reliability of 57.1%, while PIL was the least reliable carrier with schedule reliability of 44.5%. There were another seven carriers above the 50% mark, with the remaining five carriers in the 40%-50% range.

Ten of these carriers were able to record a M/M improvement in schedule reliability in May 2024, with Maersk and CMA CGM recording the highest improvement of 6.0 percentage points. Wan Hai recorded the largest decline of -4.5 percentage points. On a Y/Y level, none of the 13 carriers recorded an increase in schedule reliability, with eight carriers recording double-digit Y/Y declines.

The May 2024 pecking order was CMA CGM, Evergreen, Maersk, Wan Hai, Hapag-Lloyd, OOCL, Cosco, MSC, ONE, ZIM, HMM, Yang Ming and PIL.

Sea-Intelligence found the reliability decline was found across 29 trade lanes Y/Y. Of the five that did record an improvement, Asia to North America West Coast (NAWC) recorded the most substantial improvement.

“While the Asia-NAWC trade lane has improved substantially and is even approaching – but not quite reaching – the pre-pandemic average performance, the Asia-NAEC trade lane shows no such similar improvement,” Mr Murphy said. The performance gap between the two trade lanes, which began to open up in 2023, has only been worsening.

This means that North American importers who use an East Coast routing, are increasingly struggling with much larger disruptions in the supply chain, than if they had routed cargo via the West Coast.

Of the trade lanes that have performed poorly in May 2024, Asia-Middle East has seen one of the largest Y/Y declines. Compared to the 2019 full-year average, the trade lane has seen the largest decline in schedule reliability, dropping below the pandemic lowest. “This suggests that the Red Sea crisis is indeed having a strong impact on schedule reliability in the region,” Mr Murphy said.

The figures are all drawn from issue 154 of the Global Liner Performance (GLP) report, the full version of covers schedule reliability across 34 different trade lanes and 60+ carriers.