- The Ever Given was freed from the Suez Canal Monday and began moving to Great Bitter Lake where it will undergo a technical inspection, according to announcements from the Suez Canal Authority and Leth Agencies. Vessel-tracking services show the ship moving.
- It is not clear when traffic will begin moving through the canal, but the Suez Canal Authority said "navigation shall be resumed immediately upon the complete restoration of the vessel’s direction." Leth Agencies said the canal was still closed in its most recent update and that there are 367 ships waiting in the area.
- Hapag Lloyd said it expects trips through the canal to resume later Monday, but said it could take four days to clear the backlog, according to a service alert.
The freeing of the ship cannot come soon enough for a global maritime ecosystem that is already affected by port congestion and low levels of schedule reliability stemming from high demand to move goods.
Over the last five days, shippers have been working to determine if their cargo has been affected by the Suez blockage.
"We can confirm that there are containers with IKEA products on vessels that are waiting to make passage and resume course towards destinations via the Suez Canal," an Ikea spokesperson said Friday in an email to Supply Chain Dive.
Ikea said it could face constraints in its supply chain depending on how long the blockage lasted.
"We are currently monitoring the development and hope to see a swift solution," the spokesperson said. "As with any other case where our supply chain is somehow disrupted, we will consider all supply options available to secure the availability of our products."
The Airforwarders Association surveyed its members over the weekend to assess the impact, and five of the 21 respondents said they had experienced a delay as a result of the Suez blockage, 12 had not and four were expecting calls soon, according to figures emailed to Supply Chain Dive.
"I think it is fair to say that if not resolved soon, the situation will stir an uptick in customers searching for alternatives including a possible shift to more costly airfreight just to keep goods moving," Brandon Fried, the executive director for The Airforwarders Association, said in an email. "This should be an interesting week!"
So far, airfreight rates do not appear to indicate any uptick in demand. Rates from China/Hong Kong to Europe were relatively flat, falling less than 1% week over week, to reach $4.11 per kilogram, according to the latest data from the TAC Index.
Some carriers had already taken the step to divert ships to the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Suez. CMA CGM told customers Monday it was considering alternative sea routes in addition to rail and airfreight as potential alternatives. Hapag-Lloyd said its customers should not expect any more diversions.
Analysts expect it will take days to clear the backlog of ships that have piled up waiting for their turn to sail through the waterway.
"The impact of the blocking of such a vital container trade artery for so many days in terms of port delays and schedule disruption will take some time to clear," Turloch Mooney, an associate director of maritime and trade at IHS Markit, said in a statement.