Service Alert: Ocean Container Diversions Create Global Disruptions

Global Ocean diversions and delays in the Suez and Panama Canals have disrupted container traffic and service globally. As a result, rates to the U.S. East Coast specifically have spiked. Below is an overview of the events that have created this situation and possible solutions to help best solve your logistics needs.

Suez Canal Diversions
Carriers are re-routing vessels as a direct result of strikes in the Red Sea since the start of the Israel-Hamas war in October 2023. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced the formation of an international task force to address security issues.

Suez Canal diversions are widespread, with 90% of container ship traffic being rerouted. The world’s biggest global container carrier, MSC, alerted clients of additional rate increases for some container traffic to the U.S. starting February 12th. Industry experts say the Red Sea situation could last up to six months, possibly even a year.

Panama Canal Authority Cut Traffic Due to Drought
A severe drought that began last year has forced authorities to slash ship crossings through the Panama Canal by 36 percent. This action has been initiated to conserve water and avoid reducing the maximum allowable transit draft for vessels. The reduction to 22 vessels per day (from about 34-36) will remain in effect until February 1, 2024, when it will then be further reduced to 18. The Panama Canal Authority has advised that vessels without bookings may face "indefinite delays."

Spot Rates Climb
U.S. East and West Coast spot rates have climbed in recent weeks as a result of these challenges. With ships re-routing around the Cape of Good Hope to avoid the Red Sea disruptions, transit times and service levels will also be impacted.

Logistics CEOs have been warning that the vessel re-routings would result in container crunches. When vessels are late, the containers on those vessels will be late to be processed and reused again for exports. The need for air freight service is expected to increase in the coming weeks as companies with higher-value and time-sensitive products are already shifting to that alternative.

BTX Global Logistics provides a variety of air freight options utilizing the world’s leading airlines as well as other alternatives to help mitigate these impacts on your supply chain. Contact us today to learn more.


BTX Global Logistics is a worldwide shipping and logistics organization that provides flexible transportation solutions for shipments of any weight or size, anywhere in the world. With 43 years of experience, BTX brings a team of seasoned logistics professionals together to offer customers the highest quality of service. BTX’s services include air freight, ground freight, sea freight, white glove, trade show, e-commerce, fulfillment, distribution, and much more. 

Topics: Freight Forwarders, Supply Chain, BTX Announcements, Shipping, Logistics, Blog, Air Freight, OceanFreight