Ports are backlogged. Record numbers of ocean liners are waiting offshore for berths to unload their cargo. Shipping containers are nowhere to be found. Captains are rerouting their ships to avoid ports shut down by coronavirus outbreaks.
And for many of the world’s largest shipping lines, profits have never been higher.
The pandemic has been a double-edged sword for the shipping industry. Its disruptions have increased costs for shippers, who have to deal with the inefficiencies of leaving their ocean liners idling outside of packed ports. But at the same time, demand for consumer goods is soaring and retailers’ inventories are running low. So, companies desperate to sell their products are willing to pay exorbitant freight prices to get their goods on cargo ships.