Covid outbreak in Hong Kong threatens freight market

Hong Kong is currently experiencing its worst surge in Covid cases since 2020, with 6,116 new cases reported on Thursday.

The spike is causing fears that freight movements could be severely disrupted. Already in January box throughput at the port of Hong Kong fell 19.4% YoY, and the number of positive cases has risen massively since then.

The average vessel wait time for a berth at Hong Kong has now increased from 17.5 days to 22.5 days.

Health authorities are relaxing quarantine rules in order to limit the labour shortage caused by mass infections, but the effects remain pronounced. Fore example, 20% of truck drivers moving freight to and from the mainland either have Covid or are currently in quarantine.

Air freight has also been suffering as a result of the restrictive quarantine regulations. Cathay Pacific has had to suspend many of its services, with cargo volume in January down 31.8% YoY.

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