Hamburg, Germany — The effects of the COVID-19 crisis on global container traffic in the coming months are expected to be significant, according to Hapag-Lloyd’s CEO
“So far, the crisis has had only limited impact on our business, but we expect a significant effect of the virus on global container traffic in the months to come, and if this happens we will have to make some adjustments to the network,” said Rolf Habben Jansen in a statement.
“In terms of trade, we see that many ports in China have returned to normal operations, and that scheduled sailings and bookings ex-China are gradually increasing. For our part, we have on-hired over 100,000 TEU of additional equipment across the globe to keep the supply chain flowing. Our vessels are today operating as usual and our service structure is largely unchanged.”
Nevertheless, he believes that Hapag-Lloyd, the world’s fifth-largest container carrier by capacity, is in a good position to withstand any downturn.
He added that after a good year in 2019, that saw the company improve profitability and reduce debt, Hapap-Lloyd has “taken additional precautionary financial measures now to assure that even if the crisis persists longer than we expect today, we will be able to offer you the services and products you need.”
The need for shipping to stay operational was reiterated by IMO Secretrar-Gerneral Kitack Lim, who said: “In these difficult times, the ability for shipping services and seafarers to deliver vital goods, including medical supplies and foodstuffs, will be central to responding to, and eventually overcoming, this pandemic.
“It is, therefore, crucially important that the flow of commerce by sea should not be unnecessarily disrupted. At the same time, the safety of life at sea and protection of the marine environment must also remain paramount. ‘
Habben Larsen concurs, adding that Hapag-Lloyd has continuity plans in place to prevent any significant disruption to work productivity or customer service, but that come with a caveat.
“However, conditions are challenging for all of us at the moment. We hope that you can understand and accept that even though we are doing our best to meet your needs, there may still be times when we are unable to provide our services at the normal speed and when delays might be encountered.”
Hapag-Lloyd CEO Rolf Habben Jansen. (Hapag-Lloyd AG)