Maersk, APL and Hyundai Merchant Marine scored best in on-time reliability among container lines in the fourth quarter, according to a Drewry Maritime Research report that said carriers' overall schedule reliability fell after improving in the two previous quarters.
The proportion of the 3,027 vessel calls arriving on time at selected ports around the world during October-December decreased to 55 percent from 60 percent but topped the 53 percent score in the fourth quarter of 2009, Drewry said in its latest Schedule Reliability Insight report.
Maersk Line retained the number one slot with an on-time score of 70.2 percent, followed by APL at 67.7 percent and Hyundai at 67.6 percent.
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The trans-Pacific trade had the best on-time reliability among major east-west trades at 64 percent, the same as in the third quarter. Asia-Europe-Mediterranean services slipped to 50 percent from 64 percent, while trans-Atlantic services fell to 66 percent.
Drewry said only eight of the top 20 container lines, as ranked by vessel capacity, topped the 55 percent on-time average for the industry.
"It is always difficult explaining fluctuations in service reliability, but considering the near universal declines it is fair to say that most of the big carriers were caught out by the unusually bad weather and port disruptions in the fourth quarter," said Simon Heaney, editor of Schedule Reliability Insight.
Only three of the major carriers, MOL, "K" Line and CSAV, managed to improve their reliability percentages in the fourth quarter of 2010, with CSAV achieving the biggest rise of 9.9 points from a low base of 35.6 percent in the third quarter.
"Hopefully, these worse than expected results were just a blip caused by events outside of carriers' control," Heaney said. "From talking to carriers, we know that many view reliability as a key differentiator, so we would expect that to translate into higher on-time percentages in the near future. We certainly urge shippers to make schedule integrity a key component in the next round of global tenders."
First-quarter schedule reliability is expected to decline because of events in Egypt as liner operations face extensive delays even if the Suez Canal remains open, Drewry said.
Drewry has been monitoring container service reliability since the end of 2005. Historically, industry averages have ranged between 50 and 60 percent, with a high of 68 percent in the second quarter of 2009 and a low of 46 percent in the first quarter of 2007.
The survey tracks whether carriers meet their scheduled days of arrival at three ports in North America, two in Europe and one each in Asia, the Middle East and Oceania. When several carriers are members of a joint service, the reliability is attributed to each carrier involved in the service.
-- Contact Joseph Bonney at email@example.com.