Idle containership capacity hits all time high

The high number of service withdrawals and blank sailings that carriers have announced for the coming weeks is expected to push the inactive containership fleet capacity to more than 3 Million containers (teu). Easily passing the previous high, recorded in early March, by over half a million containers.

The lay-ups will push the idle fleet to a level twice that seen during the 2009 global financial crisis.

More than 250 scheduled sailings will be withdrawn in the second quarter alone, as carriers react to rapidly fading demand. The cargo lull is caused by general shutdowns across many key markets in nations affected by the COVID- 19 pandemic.

Several high-capacity strings will be withdrawn entirely for the second quarter, the largest of which is the 2Mā€™s AE-2/Swan. This service was to deploy twelve ships of 23,000 teu on the Asia – North Europe route.

No market segment will be spared, with capacity cuts announced across almost all key routes.

Apart from the Asia – Europe, Asia – North America and Transatlantic routes, carriers have also implemented capacity reductions in South America, the Middle East, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, and Oceania.

While the larger ships will be cascaded to replace smaller units on the remaining strings, carriers will be forced to idle a large part of their operated tonnage. This will affect all size segments in the coming weeks.

Part of the inactive fleet will be sent for scrubber retrofits, with 1.02 Million teu of vessel capacity currently at the yards for the installation of such systems.

In addition to these, there will however be significant involuntary idling for a large part of the carriersā€™ operated fleets, as up to 30% of total capacity is being removed from some of the most badly affected routes.