Several acquisitions and mergers took place resulting in a reduced number of individual container carriers and alliances. To mention the most significant of these changes: Maersk Line (Denmark) took over Hamburg Süd (Germany) from the Oetker family and announced a closer co-operation with HMM (Korea). Maersk Line is the partner of Swiss container line MSC in the 2M alliance.
CMA CGM (France) bought APL (Singapore). The three Japanese lines NYK, MOL and K Line are in the process of creating a JV, becoming one Japanese container carrier in 2018. Chinese lines Cosco and China Shipping Container Line merged last year and became one company (Cosco Shipping Lines) as well.
Korean mega carrier Hanjin went bankrupt in the summer of 2016 and rumors are singing that Taiwanese Yang Ming Line is in severe bad financial wheather. The latest rumor is that Hong Kong based OOCL would be taken over by Cosco Shipping Line.
The bankruptcy of Hanjin caused a real shockwave in the industry. Every shipping line wants to avoid becoming the ‘next Hanjin’. To avoid negative effect of the overcapacity situation all shipping lines announce ‘blanc sailings’ which increases the pressure on the available space. As a consequence of this creation of artificial shortage rates are under pressure and shipping lines follow a more strict policy to maintain and improve their financial position. At present we face, apart from operational headache to place our bookings, less flexibility from the supply side to negotiate better rates connected with space on the vessels.
During the past month pressure on space increased a lot especially in eastbound direction, which is strongly affecting the exports out of Europe to Asia and the Middle East. Direct consequence of this shortage of space (said to be artificial created by the carriers) is that prices for export shipments went through the roof. At this moment of time export rates out of Europa to the Far East are even higher then import rates which we don’t recall has been the case since decades.
With the starting up of the new alliances w.e.f. 01 April the blanc sailings will continue to be an obstacle for easy booking since new services and vessels are being phased out and phased in, causing even more pressure on the available space.
Majority of shipping lines have announced ‘peak season’ or ‘emergency peak season’ surcharges for all new bookings; some even for bookings already placed.
You can contact jour Jordex contact person for more information.