Idle fleet rises as capacity reduction expected
In the first sign that carriers are ready to use capacity reductions to match slackened demand, the maritime news service Alphaliner reported this week that the global idle containership fleet level reached 2 percent for the first time in months.
A smattering of service deletions ' typical during the winter period ' have already been announced, but Alphaliner said a larger factor at the moment is that several ships used for 'special loaders' during the peak season are currently without employment.
The idle fleet stood at 289,000 TEUs this week, compared to 243,000 two weeks ago.
Alphaliner said that 'although volume contraction is apparent from latest container port throughput figures, carriers resist laying up their surplus vessels in large numbers and instead seek new employment for these ships.'
It specifically mentioned that COSCO Container Lines assigned a surplus 8,500 TEU newbuilding to one of its transpacific strings as an additional ship and stretched the rotation by one week, applying extra slow steaming. More than 50 percent of transpacific services have adopted extra slow steaming, it said.
'However, even with full adoption of ESS on the FE-USWC route, the additional capacity absorbed would only reach 110,000 TEUs, which is insufficient to absorb the surplus tonnage that is expected to emerge in the next 3 months,' Alphaliner said.