Tips for Navigating the Peak Shipping Season


This year’s peak shipping season looks to be getting an earlier start than usual.   According to the National Retail Federation, monthly U.S. import volumes are expected to reach the two million TEU mark by the end of May before cresting at 2.1 million TEUs in August.

This year, however, experts are warning that it will be earlier and tougher than ever due to a number of contributing factors, including geopolitical turmoil, disruptions in the ocean freight sector caused by the Red Sea crisis and Panama Canal drought, and surprisingly strong air and ocean freight volumes despite the global inflationary pressures.

Peak season shipping always presents unique challenges for shippers, but with proper planning and execution, shippers can successfully navigate this busy period.  In this post, we’ll explore some valuable tip to help you avoid costly delays, increase turn times, and reduce costs.

Plan Ahead

One of the most critical steps in preparing for the peak season is to plan ahead.  Start by analyzing your historical data to forecast demand and identifying potential supply chain bottlenecks.  By understanding your shipping needs in advance, you can secure capacity and avoid last-minute rush fees.

Secure Capacity in Advance

Shippers are advised to book consignments as early possible in order to secure space and avoid shipping 45’ HC containers, if possible, as these are more likely to be rolled.  Also, be mindful that ports and warehouses are likely to be extremely congested so expect more time to load / unload at point of origin and destination.

Communicate Proactively

Clear and proactive communication with your suppliers is critical for managing expectations and addressing concerns or potential delays.  Suppliers should provide you with timely updates on order status, shipping times, and delivery windows.

Freight forwarders, such as OCEANAIR, are your greatest allies in helping you navigate the turbulent the peak season.  Communicate early and often with your freight forwarder and provide them with insight into your shipping forecasts, required delivery dates, and purchase orders so that they can advise you on the best routing options and the most appropriate lead times.

Be Flexible

Consider choosing a service with a slightly longer transit time.  The fastest transit time services are more likely to be overbooked, which increases the chances for having a shipment rolled.

Prepare for Potential Disruptions

As we’ve all witnessed over the last four years, unforeseen challenges and disruptions do occur, despite careful planning.  Shippers should have contingency plans in place to address potential issues such as weather-related delays, capacity constraints, or other supply chain disruptions. By preparing for contingencies in advance, companies can minimize the impact on their operations and maintain customer satisfaction.

Prepare to Pay for Extra Fees

Peak season surcharges (PSS), bunker surcharges, emergency bunker surcharges (EBS) imposed by several of the world’s top shipping lines due to rising fuel prices, and general rate increases (GRI) are driving up costs for all modes of transport.  Congested ports mean longer wait times for truckers, who will charge wait fees and port congestion fees.  Some ports and rail ramps may also apply chassis split charges if they experience chassis shortages.



Biden Hikes Tariffs on Numerous Imports from China: Batteries, Steel and Aluminum Products, Critical Minerals, Medical Products, and More


Pres. Biden is increasing tariffs on $18 billion worth of Chinese goods, mainly targeting key sectors deemed strategic to national security.

The Administration has for months accused China of unfair trade practices – flooding the market with goods at artificially low prices – which put U.S. manufacturers at a substantial disadvantage.

During a speech in the White House Rose Garden, Biden said, “American workers can out-work and out-compete anyone as long as the competition is fair, but for too long it hasn’t been fair… We’re not going to let China flood our market.”

“China’s using the same playbook it has before to power its own growth at the expense of others,” said Lael Brainard, the White House national economic advisor.  “China’s simply too big to play by its own rules.”

According to several new media reports, the tariff increases, which range from 25% – 100%, will be levied over the next two years and include:

Commodity Current Tariff Tariff Increase Year Levied
Battery parts (non-lithium-ion batteries) 7.5% 25% 2024
Electric vehicles 25% 100% 2024
Facemasks 0% – 7.5% 25% 2024
Lithium-ion electrical vehicle batteries 7.5% 25% 2024
Lithium-ion non-electrical vehicle batteries 7.5% 25% 2026
Medical gloves 7.5% 25% 2026
Natural graphite 0% 25% 2026
Other critical minerals 0% 25% 2024
Permanent magnets 0% 25% 2026
Semiconductors 25% 50% 2025
Ship to shore cranes 0% 25% 2024
Solar cells (whether or not assembled into modules) 25% 50% 2024
Steel and aluminum products 0% – 7.5% 25% 2024
Syringes and needles 0% 50% 2024

Beijing immediately vowed to retaliate.

OCEANAIR will continue to closely monitor the situation and will provide further updates as they become available.  In the meantime, if you require any further information or clarification, please do not hesitate to contact our Compliance Department at



Panama Canal to Increase Daily Transits in January

After receiving better-than-expected rainfall in November, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced it will increase the number of daily vessel transits from 22 to 24, beginning on January 16.  The measure replaces all previous announcements and will remain in place until further notice.

The ACP will also be adjusting its process for reserving slots after the lengthy wait times forced many vessels without reservations – which included fishing boats, cruise ships, Ro/Ros, and LNG/LPG tankers – to divert away from the canal.  Under the new process, the ACP will limit each customer to one slot per calendar date, regardless of when the slot was booked, in order to provide “a more equitable and fair distribution of slots.”  The auctioning off of slots will be prioritized according to the highest bid in the auction process, fully laden containerships, and customer ranking.  These changes are also scheduled to take effect on January 16.

The ACP has also made significant headway in clearing the backlog of vessels waiting to transit the canal.  As of December 15, there were 64 vessels in the queue, down from a normal of 99 vessels.  Of the 64 vessels in the queue, 23 were without reservations.