CONTAINERSHIP capacity on the Asia-North Europe trades is expected to be higher during this year's peak months of July to September compared to the same period last year, despite the efforts by some lines to prop up freight rates by blanking sailings.
Statistics from SeaIntel show that the average weekly capacity in weeks 28-39 is still up 2.8 per cent year on year, at an average of 262,000 TEU, in spite of carriers' adjustments to their capacity, reports Lloyd's Loading List.
It notes that ocean liners on the Asia-North Europe trade have been trying to restore balance between supply and demand, in order to get the freight rates up from today's historic lows.
It said 2M had announced a downgrade of its AE9/Condor service, "but this announced downgrade had not yet been implemented, as the vessels on schedule for the service are still the larger ones", SeaIntel noted.
"Second, we saw Ocean Three announce the combining of FAL 1 and FAL 3 into a single service from week 26 and the following 12 weeks. Third, we have seen G6 announce a large number of blank sailings across their five Asia-north Europe services."
But despite these announcements, it calculated that average weekly capacity from July to September would be 2.8 per cent higher than last year.
Not only were volumes from Asia to North Europe down by three per cent in the first four months of this year because of a weak Euro, but also imports into Russia via both Black Sea and Baltic ports have plummeted by up to 50 per cent as a result of the Rouble's depreciation following the imposition of western sanctions. That decline alone is the equivalent of one Asia-Europe loop.
Calculations by Containerisation International show that load factors averaged 92 per cent in the second quarter compared with 96 per cent a year ago, with only a modest improvement forecast for the traditional peak third quarter to 93 per cent.