Important sea trade route through the Red Sea affected by rebel attacks


Attacks by Houthi rebels on ships in the Red Sea have an impact on container shipping worldwide.

Since the outbreak of the conflict between Israel and Hamas in October 2023, the Houthi rebels from Yemen have been active again and have begun attacking, sometimes capturing and hijacking container ships in the Red Sea in particular. To protect this important sea trade route, the US and the UK have been attacking Houthi military bases in Yemen since January 2024 in response. The EU is now also involved in this operation. Overall, these developments are leading to a threat situation in the Red Sea that will persist indefinitely.

The situation in the Red Sea
With their repeated attacks on ships in the Red Sea, the Houthi rebels are seriously affecting international shipping. The route through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea connects Europe with Asia and is one of the most important trade routes in the world – around 12 % of global trade is conducted through this route.

Most international shipping lines are responding to the threat by rerouting their container ships, avoiding the Red Sea and opting for the longer route around South Africa. This alternative route takes approximately ten to twelve days longer and results in higher transportation costs for containers, which has led to an increase in sea freight rates. In addition, transit times are being extended and transport capacities and equipment are becoming scarcer.

Effects on those involved in the supply chain
Due to the acute threat situation, more and more cargo insurers are excluding the Red Sea from their risk cover and are urging their customers to prohibit transportation through the Red Sea in their bookings. International container shipping lines are currently circumventing the Red Sea, but reserve the right for route changes in exceptional cases, citing their bill of lading terms and conditions.

Our measures in response of the current situation
For some time now, we have been exclusively booking with shipping lines that have changed their route planning due to the threat situation in the Red Sea, opting for the detour around the Cape of Good Hope (South Africa). We make this choice regardless of whether the individual customer's cargo insurer has excluded risk cover in the Red Sea or not. 

All shipping lines we work with have additionally confirmed that they are generally avoiding the Red Sea due to the current situation. In exceptional cases, however, there may be a route change at short notice, over which we have no influence and for which we cannot accept any liability. We therefore ask for your understanding that, as an international freight forwarder, we cannot guarantee that the Red Sea will be bypassed.

We are monitoring the situation in the Red Sea very closely and will proactively exhaust all possibilities to ensure that your logistics will function in the best possible way. 

For questions or further information, feel free to reach out to your respective EgeTrans contact or contact us directly – we are here to assist you.