Crisis in the Red Sea costs a fifth of the cargo volume

The threatened expansion of the Houthi attacks from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean is exacerbating the crisis situation for the shipping industry.

Maersk, the Danish No. 2 in international liner shipping, expects container volumes on the important route between the Far East and Europe to fall by 15% to 20% in the coming months.

Since the beginning of the Houthi attacks, almost all shipping companies have been avoiding the Red Sea passage and also the Suez Canal to and from the Mediterranean. Instead, the ships are taking the long detour around the Cape of Good Hope.

Maersk points to increased costs

Freight rates have risen due to the longer transit times and limited shipping space. On the other hand, costs have also risen, not only for customers but also for shipping companies. There is already a shortage of containers. Maersk warns in a press release that there is an increasing risk of delays and capacity bottlenecks in the destination ports.

According to the Danish company, it has already leased 125,000 additional containers. Fleet deployment is also being constantly adjusted and additional capacity is being added to the services where possible, it says. The disruptions are affecting several other container freight routes, particularly from Asia to the east and west coasts of South America, a Maersk spokesperson said.

Some shipping companies are still operating in the Red Sea

However, there are still shipping companies that continue to sail through the Red Sea despite the increased risk. According to the industry service LinerLytica, more than 90 transits have been recorded on the Bab-el-Mandeb since 1 April, mainly by smaller shipping companies operating on the Asia-Mediterranean routes. In the same period, however, there were more than 700 ships on the Cape route.

CMA CGM is still the only major liner shipping company that still sails sporadically through the Red Sea. Three ships on the Asia-Mediterranean trade within the “Ocean Alliance” and one ship on the Europe-India route completed the passage last month, with two more planned for the coming week.

Roten Meer, Huthi, Reedereien
© LynerLytica

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Caption: The German frigate "Hessen" guides a ship through the Red Sea (@ BundeswehrImEinsatz)