The recent successful implementation of significant rate restoration initiatives by carriers in the core east-west trade lanes means that most are now operating above break-even, according to London-based consultancy Drewry.
“Carriers took sufficient capacity out in the winter months to ensure that recently reactivated services have not caused too much damage to the supply/demand balance and load factors on the eastbound transpacific remain strong,” Drewry said Tuesday. “However, with the worsening situation in Europe, we do not foresee a strong peak season this year and carriers will experience some rate erosion during the summer months. Evergreen’s decision to launch another weekly loop this month is not a positive and the Asia-Europe trade is most at risk because of the need to fill more 12,000+ TEU ships every week.”
Drewry, in the second quarter edition of its Container Forecaster report, is projecting 4.3 percent global container growth this year.
“The main reason for the recent spot rate successes has been the universal determination of all lines and rates have more than tripled on the Asia-Europe trade since March,” Drewry said.
The consultant said it’s too early to forecast whether the industry will collectively turn a profit in 2012 (despite an “appalling” first quarter), because it’s not yet clear if carrier strategy has “truly changed towards profits.”
“Responsible commercial pricing will eventually help to iron out the huge volatility we have seen since 2008, creating a more stable service platform as carriers will be less likely to pull services quickly when they become unprofitable,” said Neil Dekker, head of Drewry container research.
Given that Drewry sees little significant demand growth on headhaul east-west trades in 2013, it advised lines should refrain from ship-ordering in the next 18 months to return to a more normal supply-demand balance. - Eric Johnson