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Drewry expects that the arrival timeliness of containerships and containers will decline again in the fourth quarter, due to the impact of hurricane Sandy and several disruptions from vessel winter programmes and blank sailings.
Despite the small on-time percentage drop, the average deviation between the advertised day of arrival and the actual day of arrival for all vessel calls was unchanged quarter-on-quarter at the record low of 0.6 days.
Maersk Line held on to their coveted status as the most reliable major carrier (defined as having a minimum of 100 voyage counts in a quarter) with an all-trades on-time score of 90.5 percent in the third quarter, down from 91.4 percent in the previous quarter.
Safmarine, by virtue of sharing space on many of its big sister Maersk's services, came in second with an on-time percentage of 90.3 percent to round off a good quarter for the A.P. Moller-Maersk group.
Hanjin Shipping dropped down a place, but kept a spot on the rostrum by finishing third with an on-time percentage of 88.1 percent, down by 1.5 percentage points compared with its second quarter result.
The leading trio of lines were some way ahead of the chasing pack and the latest results revealed a worrying variance of performance between lines with a staggering 40-percentage-point difference between the most and least reliable carriers.
"While the industry average is finally getting up to mildly respectable numbers, shippers should not lose sight of the fact those standards can vary dramatically between carriers when making their procurement decisions," said Simon Heaney, research manager at Drewry.
The report also highlights how the carrier industry's reliability issues seem to start before the box is loaded onto the ship as, according to data compiled by Drewry, about three out of 10 containers are not loaded on the intended ship. The "On-Time Shipment of Cargo" in the third quarter was 68 percent, down by 1 percentage point on the previous quarter. As this key performance indicator measures whether a box is loaded onto a ship as scheduled, any discrepancy at this point will likely mean that the container will arrive late at the final destination port, even if the originally intended ship voyage is on time.
"Carrier Performance Insight" is published by Drewry Maritime Research. The report is available in pdf format, which can be downloaded from the Drewry website.
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