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Update N° 2/2024

Important customer information on the current situation in global liner shipping

Ladies and Gentlemen

In our last letter dated January 4, 2024, we informed you in detail about the recent events in the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, and the resulting disruptions and impacts on shipping in this region.

The situation has grown in complexity and global significance in recent days, which is why we would like to bring you up to date with this update.

Almost all international liner shipping companies in container, RORO and general cargo traffic continue to avoid the Red Sea and the Suez Canal on the way from Asia to Europe and vice versa. Almost all ships in this shipping area take the detour around the Cape of Good Hope, which is currently leading to significantly longer transit times and therefore significant delays, schedule changes, a lack of empty containers and capacity bottlenecks. This massively affects the ability to plan sea transport reliably.

Access to the ports in the Red Sea, especially Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, is severely restricted from both Asia and Europe due to the diversion of east-west traffic. Some shipping companies already unload cargo for these ports in other safe ports outside the Red Sea, such as Dammar (Saudi Arabia) or Jubel Ali (UAE). You are entitled to do this in accordance with the B/L conditions.

In Asia, freight rates for sea transport to Europe are currently increasing many times over due to high demand. For outbound scheduled services from Europe to the Middle and Far East, the Indian subcontinent and Australia/Oceania, additional “emergency contribution” or “peak season” surcharges have been due since the beginning of the crisis in the Gulf of Aden (approx. USD 400-800 per TEU, sometimes more).

From February 2024, this effect will most likely spread to other shipping areas, such as transatlantic traffic to North and South America.
The liner shipping companies operating here have already published corresponding announcements according to which freight rates will be increased and “peak season” surcharges will be introduced on February 5th, 2024 (approx. USD 500-1000 per TEU, in some cases more). Increasing freight costs and delays can also be expected in all other shipping areas from February onwards due to the tense capacity situation.

In addition, the low water level in the Panama Canal has been causing significant disruption to shipping traffic for months. Passage through the canal is currently only possible for a limited number of ships per day, causing lengthy backlogs on both sides. Since the beginning of the year, additional surcharges have been due for the Panama Canal transit, which are billed to the shippers with the sea freight.

We ask our valued customers to understand that, as freight forwarders, we have no influence on the current geopolitical situation and the resulting effects on global supply chains and do not accept any liability for this. Additional costs from freight surcharges, storage fees, humiliation, detention, alternative and diversion costs, etc., which result from this situation, are borne by the goods and therefore the cargo owner. This applies to both new and existing transport orders, even if a freight agreement already exists for these orders. Delays in the transport process must also be accepted at any time.

The employees in all offices of the Alfons Köster & Co. Group continuously guarantee you a high quality of service - even in difficult times - and are available to answer all your inquiries at any time. We are in close contact with everyone involved along your transport chain on a daily basis and always keep you informed about the latest developments.

Your team of

Alfons Köster & Co. GmbH 
Global Freight Logistics 


Update N° 1/2024

Important customer information on the current situation in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden

Ladies and Gentlemen

As you have already learned from our letter of December 18, 2023 and certainly also from the media, there are currently repeated armed incidents with civilian merchant ships in the Gulf of Aden. This poses a real danger to people, ships and cargo moving on this important trade route between Asia and Europe.

In order to prevent risks from this danger, almost all important liner shipping companies in traffic between Asia, the Middle East and Europe have now rerouted their ships around the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. This is already resulting in noticeable delays in ship arrivals and departures, as well as a partially unclear timetable situation for the coming weeks. This applies to container transport as well as RORO and conventional general cargo transport.

In order to compensate for the additional costs for the longer travel times, the shipping companies have introduced risk surcharges since the end of December 2023, which are billed to the shipper with the sea freight. The amount of these surcharges depends on the destination and shipping company and, depending on the port of destination, can be between USD 400.00 and 1,000.00 per TEU (20' standard unit), sometimes even more. In incoming traffic from Asia to Europe, a significant increase in sea freight rates can also be observed due to tight capacities before the Chinese New Year. Due to ships arriving late from Asia, a temporary shortage of empty containers for European exports is expected in the coming days.

Due to the diversion of services via the Cape route, the transport capacity to the ports in the Red Sea, especially to Jeddah (Saudi Arabia), is also significantly limited. Customers with shipments to the Red Sea must prepare for canceled ship departures, reduced capacities and likely rising freight costs in the short term. In individual cases, shipping companies can also exercise their right under the B/L conditions to unload cargo at sea with a port of destination in the Red Sea in a safe alternative port of their choice. The cargo owner is then responsible for forwarding the goods to the receiving location.

We would like to point out to our valued customers once again that as freight forwarders we have no influence on the current geopolitical situation and the resulting effects on global supply chains and do not accept any liability for this. Additional costs from freight surcharges, storage fees, demurrage, detention, alternative and diversion costs, etc. that result from this situation will be borne by the goods. Delays in the transport process must also be accepted at any time. We also ask you to treat media reporting on the shipping situation and price developments in a differentiated manner and with caution. Only your Alfons Köster contact person will provide you with binding information about your shipment(s) and possible extra costs or delays.

We are in close contact with everyone involved along your transport chain every day and always keep you informed.

Your team of

Alfons Köster & Co. GmbH
Global Freight Logistics


Update 4th quarter 2023

The Radio Hamburg “Listeners Help Children e.V. Donation Marathon 2023” once again raised a great sum of 680,110.49 euros! Not a given, especially this year, and absolutely great!

Florence Willoughby, Wolfgang Schmidt

Guests at Radio-HH presenter Martin Putz on December 18, 2023: Florence Willoughby and Wolfgang Schmidt handed over a donation of EUR 5,000 on behalf of the management.


Finally, as always, the most important thing: Please stay healthy!

Your team of
Alfons Köster & Co. GmbH
Global Freight Logistics

Alfons Köster & Co. GmbH
Beim Strohhause 2
20097 Hamburg
Deutschland