The total idle container fleet has increased by 96,000 teu during the past 14 days and as of November 5th it totals 762,000 teu, corresponding to 4.7 percent of the total fleet, says Alphaliner, and notes that Maersk Line is the company with the highest number of idle ships.
“Among the carriers, Maersk has the most ships currently idle with 14 units of between 4,000 and 9,600 teu with an aggregate capacity of 94,000 teu recorded to be without employment. Six of these units were displaced from Asia-Europe due to the service suspensions”, writes Alphaliner in the analysis.
Shipping companies idle ships in order to avoid falling prices by having a favorable balance between the amount of ship capacity and the amount of goods that need to be transported.
Alphaliner expects that the winter season will result in the closing down of further services and, thus the analysts expect that a further 150,000 to 250,000 teu will be idled before the end of the year. The largest share of the idle fleet is owned by the non-operating owners; that is, companies owning ships they do not operate themselves.
Lines increase share
However, the shipping companies’ share of the idle fleet has increased to 35 percent (264,000 teu) of the fleet while it was 15 percent (80,000 teu) in September. In the same period, the non-operating owners have not laid up a corresponding number of ships which means that their share is now 499,000 teu; up from 450,000 teu two months before.
At the moment, 24 vessels of more than 5,000 teu have been laid up, whereas only two ships of that size were idle in the beginning of September. Furthermore, the fleet of idle vessels between 3,000 and 5,000 teu has grown to 67 vessels compared to 53 vessels two months ago.
A total of eight ships with an overall capacity of 30,000 teu - which are operated by the Iranian shipping company HDS Lines - are not employed as American sanctions keep them from being in normal operations.