A tricky period is upon us, as the global economy sees a slowdown due to the outbreak of Coronavirus that originated from Wuhan, China. Due to the scale of the outbreak, we will all feel its impact in our day to day lives. Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell when all of this will come to an end, but by the time being we would like to help you navigate through this tricky period, so we’re pulling together as many details as possible to help you figure out how your business might be affected.

Container shipping delays caused by the Coronavirus

The most important thing you will have to know is that shipping companies that carry goods from China to the rest of the world say that they are reducing the number of seaborne vessels – as a measure to stop the spread of the coronavirus, but in doing so, they threaten to disrupt global supply chains.

Just to have an idea, about 80% of the world’s goods trade by volume is carried by sea and China is home to seven out of the world’s 10 busiest ports – according to the UN Conference on Trade and Development.

“A closure of the world’s manufacturing hub impacts container shipping at large, as it is a vital facilitator of the intra-Asian and global supply chains,” said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO, an international shipping association. “This will affect many industries and limit demand for containerized goods transport,” Sand told CNN Business.

Everything that we use on a daily basis is shipped in containers, from electronics to cars, machinery, and apparel – and a disruption to the industry will reverberate far beyond China as the country seeks to contain the coronavirus outbreak by temporarily shutting down factories to keep the workers at home.

These shutdowns mean that some ships can’t get to port, as the loading and unloading of goods slows down. In other zones, cargo ships are idling in floating quarantine zones – for example, on the shores of Australia, where ships that are arriving from Chinese ports are held in quarantine until the crew has been declared virus-free.

delays caused by the CoronavirusSome shipping companies have even taken additional measures, such as canceling shore leave for the crew- meaning that the members are not allowed to leave the ship at all. Giant shipping companies such as Maersk, MSC Mediterranean Shipping, Hapag-Lloyd and CMA-CGM have said that they have reduced the number of vessels on routes connecting China and Hong Kong with other regions such as India, Europe, and the Americas.

Air Cargo is taking a hit as well

It’s not just marine cargo shipping that’s been affected, IAG Cargo, the air cargo branch of British Airways parent IAG, canceled all services to and from mainland China at least for the remainder of the month.

DHL has also reported severe disruptions to inbound and outbound air cargo shipments, trucking and rail cargo services.

DHL has suspended deliveries in several provinces in China, while UPS and FedEx Express are limiting their flights to mainland China, making them “voluntary” flights.

A number of airlines, including America Airlines, United, British Airways and Qantas have suspended all services to and from mainland China, and we expect that there will be further reductions and suspensions of scheduled flights during the coronavirus pandemic. This will cause unpredictable rates, reduced air freight capacity and sure enough, delays – making it likely for air freight prices to go up.

Flight suspensions around the world have taken their toll on global postal services – most of the airlines are having difficulties in getting letters, parcels and even express mail items from China. In addition, China Post is disinfecting offices, postal counters and vehicles to ensure safe delivery and to protect the staff.

Here is a list of a couple of national postal services which have announced mailing issues as a result of the coronavirus:

  • United States Postal Service
  • Royal Mail
  • China Post
  • Deutsche Post
  • Singapore Post
  • Swiss Post
  • Spain
  • Swiss Post
  • Hellenic Post
  • Georgian Post

What can you do in case of these delays caused by the Coronavirus?

While you’ll be concerned with resolving pressing transportation and supply chain issues – it’s important to remember to communicate early and often with anyone that might be affected by any of the issues that you face.

First of all, you have to be sure to notify your customers in case of delays caused by the Coronavirus, especially if you are waiting for a shipment to arrive from China

Second of all, you will have to communicate directly with your suppliers and warehouses to stay on top of changes during the current situations. Some of them might not be operational, but most of them should still have customer service teams to assist with your queries.

After letting your customers know that they will be experiencing delays, be sure to provide accessible customer service so they feel they can keep track of what’s going on.