In many ways, it's not appropriate to compare numbers from summer 2010 against those from summer 2009.
Last year was an abominable year for the container shipping industry, and even though the global economy was pulling out of its tailspin by late summer, it's hard to compare the apples of 2009 to the oranges of 2010.
So measuring this year's capacity against that in 2008 probably makes more sense. For one, raw fleet capacity in August 2010 is 15.5 percent higher than in August 2008. Much of that increase is due to the delivery of scores of vessels ordered in the mid-2000s, before there was an inkling of the carnage that awaited in 2009.
However, a match-up of operated capacity on July 1, 2008 against that in late July 2010 makes for a more interesting comparison. According to ComPair Data's July 2008 World Liner Supply report, there were 278,275 TEUs of capacity on offer from Asia to West Coast North America. At the end of July 2010, there were 257,880 TEUs available on the same lane.
So there's been a nice increase in the last 12 months, but the headhaul transpacific capacity is still lagging 7 percent behind July 2008 levels. Interestingly, on the eastbound all-water lane, capacity has increased 6.2 percent since July 2008.
From Asia to northern Europe, there were 225,008 TEUs of capacity available at the end of July, a 4.6 percent drop from July 2008. The drop-off on the Asia/Mediterranean lane was much more severe ' 23.1 percent to 112,084 TEUs (though Asia/Med capacity skyrocketed 32.2 percent in the last 12 months).
All this is to say that though increases in capacity from 2009 are nice to see, the industry is largely not yet keeping pace with 2008 levels.