Denmark – Maersk Line returned a ‘decent’ US$ 204 million profit in the first quarter of this year – a reasonably positive result given that the Asia-Europe route is widely considered to be a disaster at present. However, Maersk ceo Nils Smedegaard Andersen was swept by a wave of scepticism when he told Reuters recently that he had ‘no doubt’ the carrier could increase rates from the current US$ 730 to US$ 1481 per TEU on July 1.
Smedegaard Andersen believes Maersk will succeed in doubling its freight rates from next month despite the excess of shipping capacity and the small volumes said to have been booked by the carrier.
Meanwhile, Maersk is preparing to launch the first of a new series of 20 triple-E container ships in its blue Maersk Line livery. By the end of the year, another five 18 000-TEU vessels will be delivered, with all 20 of the E-container ships are scheduled for full service by 2015 – and intended to support the Asia-Europe trade route.
This year, shipping lines have been anxious to raise freight rates to more sustainable levels, but so far without much success; for example, Hyundai Merchant Marine has already postponed a planned hike by one month because the weak market ‘cannot sustain that sort of increase’.
However, Hapag Lloyd recently warned its customers that it will apply general rate increases of US$ 1000 per TEU and US$ 2000 per FEU as of July 1, while MSC is looking for US$ 750 per TEU and US$ 1500 per FEU on its Asia-North Europe route from the same date.
It is still widely believed that, given the lack of demand, a significant shipping capacity withdrawal might be the only way to engineer a radical surge in freight rates.
Source: Maritime Professional