News & Publications

Ocean Freight Market News

After 52 years, MSC has climbed to the #1 position in the world of ocean freight, crossing this line on January 5th with the acquisition of the classic Panamax vessel MEXICO.

Wan Hai’s pivot to the Trans-Pacific market is evident in the rest of the market. The Taiwanese line’s intra-Asia business now represents 31% of its total book of business, down from 62% last year.

Idle vessel numbers ended 2021 about as low as they possibly could. Alphaliner reports no signs of “structural idling” meant that all idle vessels were due to maintenance or administrative moves (switching strings) and not due to intentional idling of capacity.

One million TEUs of new build capacity is expected to join the market in 2022. However, it will replace the 2.1 million TEU of ships over 20 years of age. It won’t be until 2023, when 2.3m TEUs join the fleet, that there will be an overall increase in capacity.

Charter market rates rebounded after a slight dip over the holidays. The amount of available charter capacity remains near zero.

Maersk ordered four more 16,000 TEU methanol-powered ships, increasing their total order to 12. The ships are also unique in that they shift the bridge and accommodations to the forward part of the ship rather than the traditional mid or aft locations.

Congestion is getting worse (again….)

In terms of terminal congestion, For North America, the slight improvement after Golden Week was fully reversed by the end of 2021, and a new record was set on December 30th. Albeit with a slight improvement again on January 6th, driven by improvements in Savannah and Charleston. For Europe, we see a situation that has been steadily getting worse since the start of October, with no signs of any improvement – or even leveling out. This also implies that we might well expect to see a continued upward push on freight rates on this trade, as the congestion is likely to negatively impact reliability, and hence in turn on available capacity. All the available data shows that congestion and bottleneck problems are worsening getting into 2022, and there is no indication of improvements as of yet.

Contributor: Martha Ma

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