CONTAINER shipping lines worldwide are estimated to have collectively earned US$7 billion last year, and Drewry forecasts 2018's results may be even better.
In its latest Container Market Outlook & Freight Rate Trend, Drewry says it expects ongoing volume growth in every region. As a result, it has revised upwards its forecast for 2018 from an annualised growth rate of 3.6 per cent to 4.3 per cent, reported UK's The Loadstar.
It noted this would represent a further nine million containers requiring shipment, which has eased concerns about overcapacity given the arrival of a significant number of mega newbuild vessels.
Drewry Supply Chain Advisors director Philip Damas was quoted as saying: 'Supply pressures are not as hazardous as it would appear,' due to the ability of shipping lines to 'suppress the impact by deferring deliveries' and off-hiring chartered tonnage when needed.
The market appears to be ready for off-hired ships. One broker told The Loadstar he had charterers in some sectors 'becoming desperate' for tonnage.
The number of idle containerships dropped to a new low of 82, equating to 301,116 TEU, or just 1.6 per cent of the global fleet, according Alphaliner data. The analysts said that the active fleet has now reached 20.98 million TEU, an increase of 10.8 per cent compared to last year.
Carriers can now look to fixing most Asia to Europe contract rates at a level on par with or slightly better than last year, which itself was a significant improvement on 2016.
There is still time to run before the transpacific contract negotiation season starts, but the initial indications on that route are also positive.