Hapag-Lloyd postpones November trans-Pacific container rate hike

German container shipowner Hapag-Lloyd will postpone its Nov. 1 rate hike for East Asia to North America route until Dec. 1, the company said in a notice to clients on Oct. 29.

Hapag-Lloyd’s General Rate Increase (GRI) of $1,200/FEU was previously delayed from Oct. 1 to Nov. 1 as scrutiny from regulators in the US and China intensified. Other major shipowners similarly delayed or withdrew their proposed GRIs last month.

If fully implemented, the GRI would bring rates from North Asia to West Coast North America to a new multi-year high. Platts Container Rate 13 for the route was last assessed at $3,750/FEU, slightly lower from $3,800/FEU at the start of October.

Available space on container ships for trans-Pacific routes remains tight amid a surge in shipments for pre-holiday restocking. Containers themselves have been in short supply as coronavirus precautions at US ports have caused delays in repositioning the equipment at export terminals in Asia.

“US dwell times are increasing, vessels are bunching up and there are delays of seven to 12 days at US ports before the container ships depart. In November the situation will continue the same,” a US-based freight forwarder said. “It will be interesting to see what carriers will do with their GRIs. In theory there needs to be an increase.”