Improving trend in waiting times prior to docking will continue to improve in 2023
Pre-mooring waiting times showed clear signs of improvement towards the end of 2022 despite increasing disruptions due to strikes in the transport sector, and this trend is expected to continue in 2023. Thus, according to the latest Drewry's Ports and Terminals findings, after more than two years of widespread port congestion, signs of improvement are beginning to be seen.
Globally, pre-mooring waiting time remained significantly above pre-pandemic levels through 2020-22. In 2019, the waiting time represented just over 17% of the total time in port, but in both 2021 and 2022 the waiting time before berthing increased to more than 25% of the total time in port.
According to Drewry, there were clear signs of improvement in the second half of 2022, despite increasing levels of disruption associated with strikes by dockworkers and other transport sectors. But despite this progress, pre-mooring wait time remains elevated above pre-pandemic levels, leaving much work to be done.
In the fourth quarter of 2022, in the North America and Oceania regions only, the wait time before berthing remained significantly (>10%) above 2019 levels. In contrast, the wait time before berthing in Europe was 16,6% in 4Q23, just 1,2% above the 2019 average of 15,4%.
While some of the improvement in Drewry's sample of African ports can be attributed to increased calls following capacity expansion at Tanger Med, there has been notable improvement at many other ports in the region.
Drewry wait time and port congestion are expected to return to pre-pandemic levels over the course of 2023, thanks to reduced cargo demand, due to lower economic growth combined with a resumption of more normal seasonality . Signs of the latter are clearly evident in the early weeks of the year, heralding more predictable times, although continued use of blank sailings will increase average berthing times.