Lines manage capacity tightly in 2011
Liner carriers in the two major east/west head-haul trades have significantly decreased effective capacity available to shippers since the start of 2011, according to data from American Shipper research affiliate ComPair Data.
ComPair Data’s World Liner Supply Analytics has a tool allowing users to measure the ratio of deployed capacity (total vessel capacity assigned to a trade) to allocated capacity (the percentage of that deployed capacity actually available to shippers, based on ComPair Data estimates). That tool presently shows the ratio of deployed-to-allocated capacity on the westbound Asia/Europe trade has risen from 11.8 to 14.8 from Jan. 2 to Jan. 23. On the eastbound transpacific, the ratio has risen from 9 to 10.5 in the same three-week period.
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For perspective on how fast those numbers have risen, the ratio only rose from 11.3 to 11.8 on the westbound Asia/Europe lane and from 8.4 to 9 on the eastbound transpacific during the whole of 2010.
The higher the ratio, the less capacity available to shippers relative to total capacity deployed. A higher ratio doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s less capacity available to shippers; it typically means that carriers are deploying more capacity on a trade while not making all of it available to shippers.
As an example, if a line expands deployed capacity on a transpacific or Asia/Europe service by adding a new vessel or switching to larger vessels, it can mitigate the amount of capacity made available to shippers by slow steaming. In that way, it is employing its expensive assets (namely vessels) while also refraining from overloading the market with capacity that could drive down rates. It’s the primary way the liner industry has been able to manage capacity in the last 18 months while also taking collective delivery of a record amount of ordered tonnage. ‘ Eric Johnson