Sea Shipping Routes
From the first few weeks of the coronavirus breakout we have witnessed distruptions in supply chains stemming from China.
The virus originated in the the Wuhan region of China, which has strategical shipping locations along the Yangtze River - one of the world's busiest waterways. Over two billion tonnes of cargo are transported through ports on the Yangtze River every year.
China is home to seven on of the globe's busiest container ports. As part of extreme precautionary measures, the Chinese government have the strictest lockdown on their country which have effectively slowed down the spreading within their country. Economical side-effects are felt as the world's main manufacturing hub is closed down, normally serving as a vital facilitator of global supply chains - affecting container shipping at large.
Our neighbor, Italy, are also taking extreme measures trying to combat the spread of coronavirus. The situation at hospitals is synonymous with war-like efforts, hospital staff fighting the virus with droves of patients affected. The epidemic went out of control and the Italian government issued a lockdown.
Despite this we are still seeing cargo transported and transited, inbound and outbound of Italy, with no delays experienced. Blank sailings are most often a result of inactivity in China. There has been some impact on air cargo availability in Italy as most airlines are reducing flights due to a massive decrease in bookings and restrictions from the government.
Italian shipping operator, d'Amico International Shipping, is optimistic about 2020 despite coronavirus concerns.
Air Shipping Routes
Not just sea freight is affected by the corona virus. Air freight has started to see disruptions in various logistical points. German logistics group released an overview outlining that severe disruptions are seen in air cargo, trucking and rail cargo shipments. UPS has seen a decreased demand for their shipping services as the coronavirus disrupt supply chains.
Light at the end of the tunnel
What will be interesting to follow is the rate of recovery we should see once the pandemic is contained. Historically, after the spread of a virus, very strong rebounds follow.
One thing is for sure though, the longer the crisis last, the harder it will be to move goods around the world.
On a Local Level in Malta
On a local level we have had no new reports around coronavirus and shipping implications besides what we wrote about two weeks ago regarding a strike in the Malta Freeport where docking workers refused to handle incoming cargo from Italy until proper safety and health checks were in place.
There has however been reports regarding logistical implications for leisure cruise liners being denied entry to Malta as part of precautionary measures. There was one report about a cruise ship carrying over 2000 passengers which was denied entry to Malta after rumors about the ship having affected passengers on board, the their request to stop in Malta was not a pre-scheduled stop. Another cruise lines has also been denied entry, the ship Marco Polo was scheduled to stop in Malta but was not given go-ahead to enter Maltese territorial waters.