The total vessel capacity operated by the top 15 container carriers grew by 12.6% in the last
year.Over the course of 2017, the same carriers’ combined share of the global container ship capacity increased from 78.6% to 85.1%, as the top 15’s grip of the global container trades continued to strengthen.
The 15 carriers grew their operated capacity from 16.27 Mteu in 2017 to 18.32 Mteu on 1 January 2018 to, based on Alphaliner records.
This figure includes capacity operated by companies that were acquired during the period. Over the same period, the global liner capacity increased by 3.9% from 20.69 Mteu to 21.51 Mteu. However, not all of the carriers recorded gains, as two carriers posted reductions in their operated capacity.
The biggest loser was Hyundai Merchant Marine (HMM), whose capacity fell by 23.9% from 456,000 teu in 2017 to 347,000 teu at the beginning of 2018.
The reduction was due mainly the withdrawal of numerous HMM ships from the Asia - Europe and Asia - East Coast of North America routes. The ships were chartered out to Maersk and MSC under a strategic cooperation agreement, known as 2M+HMM, that took effect on 1 April 2017.
In contrast, the main gainer last year was the Maersk Group, whose operated capacity grew by 26.8% to reach 1.80 Mteu on 1 January 2018, up from 1.62 Mteu twelve months earlier. In case of Maersk, the recent takeover of the German carrier Hamburg Süd contributed a large part of the capacity increase. Without the purchase however, Maersk would still have grown organically by some 10%.
Meanwhile, the idle containership fleet of over 500 teu has fallen to 99 ships for 377,784 teu as at 8 January, down significantly compared to the same time last year when 351 ships for 950,000 teu were unemployed.
The remarkable change in fortunes for the classic panamax sector continues to drive the fall in the idle fleet, with only 13 units of 3,000-5,100 teu units are presently unemployed compared to 99 units at the same period last year.