A blank sailing, also known as void sailing, occurs when an ocean carrier intentionally cancels a scheduled port call or an entire voyage, which is referred to as “blanking the string.” This strategic decision is primarily influenced by factors such as low demand for space on vessels, port congestion, market dynamics, and operational efficiency.
A string refers to a set of ports served weekly by a carrier, typically in a circular rotation with a fixed departure day for each port. An example of a carrier string could be Qingdao → Xiamen → Singapore → Rotterdam → Qingdao. Blank sailings can happen when carriers need to adjust the number of strings in response to shifts in demand or when establishing new alliances within the maritime industry.
Carriers may also utilize blank sailings to consolidate shipments, thereby reducing capacity and maintaining stable rates. Additionally, external factors like adverse weather can lead to blank sailings. For shippers, this can pose challenges as alternative transportation arrangements may be necessary. Typically, carriers notify customers ahead of time, and affected shipments are rescheduled for the next available sailing.