Six years ago only 5% of the container vessels deployed on the Asia-Europe tradelane had a capacity in excess of 14,000 teu. Since then this number has grown nine-fold to 45% today. Copenhagen-based boxwatchers SeaIntel are now predicting that by 2020 almost 90% of all ships on this key route will be larger than 14,000 teu as a slew of 18,000 to 22,000 teu ships deliver from yards in Asia.
SeaIntel predicts liners will have to continue to slash weekly services on Asia-Europe in the coming three years unless there is an unexpected sustained surge in demand.
SeaIntel reckons carriers will need to make a strategic choice – mimic each other’s services and further drive commoditisation, or try to have unique direct port-port combinations the other alliances do not have. This could involve using 10,000 to 14,000 teu ships, SeaIntel posited, for greater product diversification, albeit at higher operational unit costs.