Citing “seasonal market demand reductions” Maersk announced yesterday it was blanking another Asia-Europe service, pulling the Estelle Maersk from a planned departure from China on March 2 on the AE2 service it operates with MSC. The cancellation is on top of the carrier’s already communicated Chinese New Year blank sailings and adds to a growing weak sentiment about prospects on the Asia-Europe tradelane.
The move was applauded however by Lars Jensen, co-founder of SeaIntellingence Consulting, who felt the Danish carrier was becoming more focused on getting its ships moving profitably this year.
“The swift reaction to reduce capacity in the face of weak post-Chinese New Year cargo could be seen as an indicator that at least some of the carriers are approaching 2019 from the perspective that profitable vessel utilisation is more important than pursuit of additional volume to fill half-empty vessels,” Jensen told Splash.
Andy Lane from CTI Consultancy in Singapore said it was too early to see the numbers of boxes on the tradelane post-Lunar New Year. Other carriers may continue to move their ships in an underutilized fashion, he predicted.
“It might be that the alliances are in a game of who blinks first, not wishing to give up market share early despite knowing that too much capacity is deployed,” Lane said.