It was reported in December that Maersk is to remove eight container ships from service, while rivals MSC and CMA CGM, the world’s number two and three container lines, have cut several routes linking Europe and Asia. Other cutbacks include CSAV’s Asia-North Europe service, one of MOL-“K” Line’s Far East–West Coast South America loops, and MOL’s Far East–South Africa service. â€¨These cutbacks contributed to the 90 ships that AXS-Alphaliner says have became idle since the middle of December. â€¨
According to Alphaliner, on top of the likely 750,000 teu of idled ships in February, deliveries of new ships will swell the world fleet by around 14% this year. “Adding this fleet overhang to the newbuildings, the actual fleet growth based on today’s working fleet will then reach 20%,” said the consultant. “It needs more than a vigorous market to absorb such a fleet growth. The hangover will last well into 2009, with lights of hope in spring 2010.”
Alphaliner warned that a prolonged period of lower bunker fuel prices also threatens to swell the idled fleet, as ocean carriers may decide that slow steaming is no longer cost-efficient and bring their loops back to normal speeds. It says that there are currently 35 deep-sea loops in slow-steaming mode.