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MSC Tops Maersk for Best Schedule Reliability as Recovery Continues

MSC schedule reliability
MSC had the best schedule reliability in November 2022 among the major carriers (file photo)

Published Dec 29, 2022 12:04 PM by The Maritime Executive

MSC for the first time has claimed the top spot as the carrier with the best schedule reliability surpassing Maersk according to the monthly data from Sea-Intelligence. The data analytics firm reports that the container shipping carriers are overall continuing to improve their schedule reliability as port delays due to congestion have declined.

“Both schedule reliability and average delay are now better than the 2020 level,” says Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence. Global schedule reliability improved by 4.7 percentage points month-over-month in November 2022 notes Murphy while the average delay improved once again, dropping by another -0.58 days.

Among the 14 major carriers, MSC jumped to the top of the list with the best overall performance with a nearly two-thirds (63.4 percent) schedule reliability. While growing to become the largest container carrier in 2022, MSC also doubled its schedule reliability on a year-over-year basis. According to Sea-Intelligence’s analysis, MSC achieved a 20 percent improvement in schedule reliability between October and November 2022.

This marks the first time that MSC has headed the rankings from Sea-Intelligence. Maersk has mostly been at the top along with Hamburg-Sud as the two carriers with the best monthly performance. Maersk also showed a 10 percent improvement in its schedule reliability between October and November and a 34 percent year-over-year improvement. Maersk was also the only other carrier above 60 percent reliability but at 61.7 percent fell behind MSC overall.

A total of 10 out of the top 14 carriers are now above 50 percent schedule reliability with the strongest overall improvements in reliability over the past 12 months coming from the Asia-based carriers. Firms including Wan Hai, Evergreen, OOCL, HMM, Yang Ming, and COSCO each showed anywhere from a 100 to 350 percent improvement between November 2021 and last month. Except for Wan Hai, the Asia-based carriers however showed smaller monthly improvements between October and November 2022, while MSC and Zim were among the most improved in the last month. Only Yang Ming showed a decline, of just over three percent, in the monthly data from Sea-Intelligence.

For the seventh month in a row, the overall average schedule reliability for ocean carriers improved. Sea-Intelligence tracks the performance of more than 60 carriers across 34 different trade lanes. After showing reliability at an all-time low at the beginning of 2022, they reported that the average has now surpassed 56 percent, a level last achieved in September 2020. While the yearly average for 2022 remains the second lowest at 41 percent, schedule reliability continues to rebound from a low of just over 30 percent in January 2022.

Sea-Intelligence also reports that the average delay for late arriving vessels stood at just over five days in November 2022, equaling the average for all of 2020. It is improved from a level of nearly eight days in January 2022 but the year’s average delay remains at nearly 6.5 days going into the last month of 2022.

With many of the major ports having cleared their backlogs, the expectation is that carriers can continue to improve the overall schedule reliability. Before the pandemic, Sea-Intelligence calculates carriers averaged better than 70 percent schedule reliability.