Red Sea Crisis:
39% Increase in Transit Times Between Asia and the Mediterranean

Recent geopolitical tensions and attacks by Yemeni Houthi forces on ships in the Red Sea and Indian Ocean are significantly impacting global shipping routes. These threats are forcing many container ships to avoid the Suez Canal, opting instead to circumnavigate Africa. This detour is increasing both transit times and shipping costs.

Key Findings on Transit Time Increases

  • Overall Impact: The average transit time between Asia and the Mediterranean has increased by 39%.
  • Comparative Increases: Routes between Asia and Northern Europe have seen a smaller increase in transit times, with a maximum of 25% for the Southeast Asia-North Sea route and under 10% for the North Asia-Baltic route.
  • Mediterranean Routes: The most significant increases are for routes to the Eastern and Central Mediterranean. Transit times to the Eastern Mediterranean have risen by 61%-63%, and to the Central Mediterranean (including Italian ports) by 39%-40%.

Operational Challenges

The crisis has also led to an uptick in blank sailings, where scheduled sailings are canceled to manage supply and demand. This has been a common strategy since the pandemic to cope with port congestion and capacity issues.

  • Capacity Analysis: The Asia-North Europe route saw canceled capacity nearly double from March to April 2024, while the Asia-Mediterranean route experienced a reduction in canceled capacity during the same period.
  • Port Congestion: Congestion in major Asian and European ports is worsening, absorbing shipping capacity and leading to potential shortages. This could drive spot rates higher rapidly if not managed effectively.

Future Projections

Sea-Intelligence, the research firm behind these findings, notes that there is enough capacity to reroute ships around Africa but not enough to handle further major disruptions. The return to pre-pandemic reliability levels could add up to 4% more capacity to the market in 2024, on top of a 9% increase from new ship deliveries.

Aprile’s Response

At Aprile, we are closely monitoring these developments to provide our customers with the most efficient and cost-effective shipping solutions. Despite the challenges, we remain committed to delivering reliable service through our extensive global network. Our proactive approach ensures that we can adapt to these disruptions and continue to meet the logistics needs of our clients worldwide.

The situation highlights the delicate balance in global shipping logistics, where geopolitical events can quickly disrupt established routes and operations, leading to significant economic impacts.

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