Box charter rates are still only 55% of the average pre-Lehman

In the ten years since the Lehman bankruptcy, average containership charter rates have remained at only 55% of the average that was recorded in the years before the financial crisis, according to data from Alphaliner who warned in their latest weekly report that the sector’s surplus vessel capacity still has not yet been fully cleared out.

Based on Alphaliner records of containership idlings collected since 2000, the idle fleet has averaged 4% of global capacity since 2008, compared to just 0.5% in the eight years prior to the Lehman bankruptcy. Containership charter rates have slumped as a result of the supply overhang, with the average Alphaliner charter index over the last ten years dropping to just 45% of the average for the period preceding the financial crisis.

“Any hope of a sustained charter rate recovery rests on clearing up the supply overhang,” Alphaliner stated, adding: “This will, however, not happen in 2018.”

Analysts at Alphaliner are predicting that over the coming months, the idle containership fleet is expected to increase and it could well climb to more than 3% of the total fleet by the end of the year.

“The likelihood of the idle fleet being cleared by next year has also diminished,” Alphaliner warned with 1m teu of newbuildings set for delivery next year and more US tariffs dampening demand and prolonging the decade-old box slump.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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