Drewry said that if the Suez Canal was suddenly closed, container vessel schedules between Asia and Europe could be immediately adjusted to minimise delays by simply increasing speeds to 22 knots in each direction and sailing around the Cape of Good Hope.
However it also warned that "shippers would have to pay a hefty surcharge to cover the cost." Drewry says that today average headhaul speeds for various alliances range from 18.1 to 20.4 knots on the headhaul from Asia to North Europe and from 13.4 to 16.9 knots on backhauls.
The London-based consultant notes that the Suez Canal is "a key component in Asia-Europe container trade, and is becoming more important for Asia-U.S. East Coast trade, too."
The report adds: "A further complication of replacing the capacity provided by vessels stopping off in the Mediterranean en route from the Far East to Northern Europe remains, but direct services still currently have enough spare capacity for this."
It also noted "the low probability of the Suez Canal closing has increased due to the threat of terrorist activity from either the ousted Muslim Brotherhood party or one of its rivals for power."
Source: British International Freight Association
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