TPEB and US Port Situation

Posted on Oct 21


Congestion in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach (LALB) is expected to remain a problem for at least the next two weeks as continued strong import volumes will heavily impact terminal productivity as well as chassis and drayage availability.

Container dwell times at LALB terminals has increased up to 5 days, truck turn times increased too and the fact that empty containers are not returned to the terminals fast results in a shortage of container chassis at the port, where containers cannot be moved to off-port storage yards.

The port of Los Angeles estimates that incoming container volume will increase from this week’s almost 130K TEU to 135K TEU next week before dropping to about 105K TEU (numbers do not include Long Beach) – so although relief seems to be in sight it will take a few weeks to handle the existing backlog before the ports will remain to normal levels.

Please contact your V. Alexander Account Team with questions about specific shipments so any available measures to expedite cargo can be discussed.


Space on TPEB lanes remains very tight, and cargo rolls are expected to continue with rollover ratios of up to 30% in certain ports until the end of year.

Although carriers reacted to the demand surge for cargo from Asia to the US by reinstating blanked sailing and deploying extra loaders to manage the large cargo flows roll ratios remain higher than during previous peak seasons, leading to rollover ratios of 30% or more in Singapore, Ningbo-Zhoushan, Busan, and Jebel Ali, and about 20-25% in Shanghai, Hong Kong, Qingdao, Port Klang, and Tanjung Pelepas.

Although carriers rollover ratios improved by about 3% in September on average one in four containers was rolled over, especially at transshipment hubs.

Import volumes from Asia are expected to remain high for the foreseeable future, most probably into December and possibly beyond.

Even with advanced notice it is currently very hard to get confirmed bookings as backlogs from rollovers and continued heavy export volumes continue to tighten available freight space. Additionally, the Asian origins still face equipment shortages caused by the slow back-flow of empty containers from the US to Asia.

We suggest to book cargo as far out as possible at the moment to increase the chances of getting bookings confirmed or to contact your Account Team about potential advanced services that can be arranged.



US imports from Asia are expected to remain at high levels at least through the end of October, with Asian ports struggling with increased equipment shortages due to missing empty returns and West Coast ports, especially Los Angeles/Long Beach, facing terminal congestion caused by increased import volumes and a chassis shortage as shippers do not return empty equipment to the port fast enough.

Eight major Chinese ports reported a combined 7.2% increase in container volumes year-on-year in mid-September, with the ports of Tianjin, Xiamen and Shenzhen each reporting growth of over 10%, which caused the import volume at LALB to reach over 830,000 TEU in August, an increase of 58% from May this year, with the expectation of even higher numbers in September.

Extra loaders that carriers added to their regular liner services to handle the pre-Golden Week volume from Asia pushed average weekly container capacity on the TPEB lane to a record 530,000 TEU – with almost all of the extra capacity moving into LALB.

This hits the LALB port complex when it already had to deal with problems like chassis shortages, insufficient truck and rail capacity and an insufficient labor pool, this coupled with the tendency of shippers not returning empty containers and chassis to the port timely as they face their own struggles at warehouses and distribution centers near the port caused the main key indicators at the terminals, truck turn time and container dwell time, to increase from 62 to 70 minutes and from 2.8 to 3.25 days respectively. Over 10% of the containers sitting in port terminals for 5 days or longer (up from 5.7 days in July), which means that the space they take up cannot be used to store the additional volumes arriving.

The situation impacts all cargo, being it local to LALB or IPI cargo that needs to be moved to railcars for distribution to inland points.

While some industry analysts predict that this elevated level of import volumes could extend well into November or even into next year, others are cautioning that the sharp economic recovery the US has seen in the last few months is probably going to falter in the 4th quarter of the year, which would result in import volumes to recede again and carriers possibly having to reduce their capacity again for the remainder of the year.

The current situation is expected to at least continue in October, possibly early November, with cargo delays to even increase further until the ports are able to handle the onslaught of additional cargo by reducing their backlog to a more normal level.

Please contact your Account Team on any specific shipment you are concerned about so we can evaluate each and every possibility to potentially expedite your freight, we have various options to terminate cargo in ports and expedite there through trans-loading and expedited trucking or domestic airfreight solutions.

You can also discuss expedited or expanded transport options with your Sales and Customer Service contacts that might allow us to arrange for special handling at origin before the shipment actually moves to the US.