OOCL narrows booking window
OOCL said this week in a customer advisory that it will limit acceptance of online booking requests to a maximum of eight weeks out “due to the continued tight space availability in the North American export market.”
Under the new rule, which came into effect March 8, OOCL said it is limiting acceptance of online booking requests via oocl.com or cargosmart.com to eight weeks.
Shippers booking by phone or e-mail face an even more restrictive window of just four weeks.
“We have for the past few months experienced an increase in closed vessels and canceled bookings that are in part due to overbooking and customer multiple carrier booking activities in order to secure space. We believe our prudent move to limit the booking acceptance window to this eight-week period will benefit you the customer as we improve our space management,” the carrier said.
A recent paper from the World Shipping Council (WSC) on U.S. exports said while carriers are planning modest volume increase for both imports and exports, “given the market conditions and operating environment expected in 2010, challenges will continue to exist for carriers, and may arise for some export shippers.”
It suggested that accurate advance planning was important for shippers for ensuring available equipment and vessel space.
“Exporters should reserve vessel space and equipment, a practice referred to as booking, well in advance of the scheduled shipment date,” wrote WSC. “Exporters should not reserve vessel space and equipment that they may not use, a practice referred to as ‘phantom booking.’ Phantom bookings generally occur when an exporter reserves vessel space and equipment with more than one carrier for the same shipment and/or books more containers than are actually needed for a particular shipment. Phantom booking is a practice costly to carriers and one that reduces available equipment and vessel space for all exporters.”
The WSC also said exporters may want to explore alternate and innovative routing options and should realize that the cost of positioning empty equipment for an export containerload must be paid for by the revenue for that containerload.