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WORLD SHIPPING

Maersk's resumes bookings on Europe-Asia backhaul run, but rates to rise
Maersk's resumes bookings on Europe-Asia backhaul run, but rates to rise


DANISH shipping giant, Maersk Line, has "relaxed" its four-week old booking embargo on the North Europe-Asia trade while warning rates will rise shortly, reports London's International Freighting Weekly.
Wednesday, 18.Apr.2012, 22:41 (GMT)

DANISH shipping giant, Maersk Line, has "relaxed" its four-week old booking embargo on the North Europe-Asia trade while warning rates will rise shortly, reports London's International Freighting Weekly.

But the next round of general rate increases (GRI) expected to be US$400-$450 per TEU on the Asia-Europe trade, are planned for May 1.

The suspension of bookings, announced on March 20 and blamed this on a lack of space, was controversial, given the route's status as a less used backhaul route.

In an email to customers, Maersk Line warned customers that "strong space pressure" was expected to continue through April and May, implying that pressure would also apply to prices.

Meanwhile, the wider industry's general restoration of freight rates showed little overall sign of letting up, although the key Asia-Europe component of the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI) did slip US$26 to $1,744.

The World Container Index showed no signs of change on the Rotterdam-Shanghai backhaul, which held steady at $608 per FEU, but that did not reflect Maersk's reinstatement of backhaul services, said IFW.

Ahead of the recent transpacific general rate increase (GRI), the SCFI's Shanghai-US west coast and Shanghai-US east coast components saw far bigger moves, with rises of $257 and $309, respectively.

Transpacific carriers had previously proposed a $400 increase to take effect later this month. Ben Gibson, a container rate derivatives broker at London's Clarkson Securities, said market participants still doubted that current demand for freight space was sufficiently high to ensure rate increases would hold.

"The increases follow the pattern already exhibited by the Asia-westbound routes, as carriers seek to restore profitability to the mainline trades," he said.

"Our analysis follows some of the supply trends that have underpinned these rises, but there is a growing feeling in the market that such strength is unsustainable, given current levels of demand," said Mr Gibson.


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