February 16 - Liner service reliability fell to a record low in January as the effects of US West Coast congestion and the phasing-in of new alliance services took their toll, according to the Carrier Performance Insight, published online every month by g

The overall on-time performance for the three key East-West trades slumped to a disappointing 48.6 percent in January, down by 9.4 percentage points on December, which itself was one of the worst months of 2014.

On a trade lane basis, the transpacific (based on 3,351 voyages) was the worst offender with an on-time performance of just 36 percent in January, down from 47 percent in December. The smaller transatlantic trade (437 voyages) fared little better on 45 percent, down by 1.4 points against the previous month, while the Asia-Europe trade (7,697 voyages) fell by 10 points to 54 percent - its worst performance since August.

"Drewry had anticipated some service deterioration in light of the new alliance formations which took effect in January and posed some risk from vessel repositioning," said Simon Heaney, senior manager of supply chain research at Drewry. "Additionally, ongoing congestion at US west coast ports was also expected to adversely impact overall performance levels. But the extent of the decline is particularly disappointing.

"The sizeable margin between the most and least reliable shipping lines reemphasises that not all carriers are the same. It also demonstrates how vital it is for retailers and manufacturers to fully understand the relative performance of different carriers and associated liner services in order to support procurement decisions," said Heaney

"Shippers are getting much lower value for money at the moment as reliability is falling from an already low point, while all-in freight rates are rising. We expect reliability to improve in the coming months as new alliance services settle down and each carrier group seeks to make their new services more attractive to customers."

Drewry's new Carrier Performance Insight builds on a decade of providing the market with objective schedule reliability benchmarks. The recently enhanced online service allows the reliability performance of container carriers to be compared on a port-to-port, trade lane, service and industry-wide basis.