Soren Skou, chief executive officer of Maersk Line, said if there's insufficient demand by shippers for transport when its 18,000-TEU "Triple-E" containerships enter service later this year between Asia and Europe, the company will trim capacity.
“As we introduce new and larger ships, if the market is not growing we will pull out other capacity to make the balance for
us,” said Skou in an interview published in the company's in-house magazine Maersk Post
The company plans to put the first five Triple-E ships into service between Asia and Europe this year, and the magazine notes that it comes at a challenging time with volumes shrinking on the trade lane five percent in 2012, and expectation of only 1 percent growth in 2013, according to Alphaliner.
Maersk does 30 percent of its business between Asia and Europe, Skou said, adding "the key is to manage capacity - that is to act responsibly to ensure we do not contribute to oversupply in the industry – that can only lead to rates collapsing."
Maersk said the initial plan is to phase in the Triple-E vessels into Maersk's AE10 service, which currently calls at 13 Asia and Northern Europe ports. They will replace 13,100-TEU ships which will cascade to other services.
With most of the 20 Triple E ships Maersk has ordered being delivered in 2014, Chief Operating Officer Morten Engelstoft said the company will only increase capacity by about 1.5 percent in 2013, "in line with our ambition of growing with the market.”
Skou said the ships will have the lowest costs in the industry, consuming 35 percent less fuel than the 13,100-TEU ships they will replace.
“In 2012 we didn’t make money on our Asia-Europe routes, including those served by Daily Maersk," Skou said. "A lack of growth in Europe has curtailed demand; at the same time supply increased. However, the product has been well received and is currently easily the most reliable in the industry. Whilst the wider economic situation remains fragile in Europe, I am cautiously optimistic that in 2013 we will make money in this part of the world." - Chris Dupin