The world’s biggest container ports will remain clogged up for six to nine months because of the supply chain crisis, the British Ports Authority warned on Wednesday.
The gloomy forecast came one day after Danish shipping giant AP Moller-Maersk revealed it has started diverting traffic away from Britain’s biggest container port Felixstowe on the eastern English coast.
The world’s largest shipping firm is redirecting container ships to continental ports like Rotterdam and Antwerp, before switching to smaller vessels for UK deliveries.
“The congestion in general will last for another six to nine months,” British Ports Authority policy director Mark Simmonds said.
“There is congestion in container ports, but it’s pretty much everywhere in the world.”
The matter is unlikely to affect Christmas in a major way
The situation “is probably worse in [continental] Europe, and much worse in China and the US” than in Britain, he added.
Reopening economies are currently experiencing booming demand – and supply has failed to keep pace.
Britain is also suffering from soaring energy prices, shortages of goods, motor fuel delivery issues and a worsening long-term shortage of lorry drivers, with post-Brexit immigration controls and COVID among causes cited by experts.
Simmonds denied media reports that the ports crisis could spark shortages of goods – and toys – in the run-up to Christmas.
The matter “is unlikely to affect Christmas in a major way” because there is still time for goods to arrive.
“September-October is the time when people start filling their warehouse with stuff for Christmas,” Simmonds said.
“Ports [have been] working around the clock to get [the congestion] sorted for over a year,” he added.
Felixstowe handles just over one-third of UK freight container volumes.
It has been among the most congested global ports owing to the acute shortage of lorry drivers in Britain.
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