DANISH Maersk Lines has mothballed one of its giant Triple- E 18,000 TEU vessel for at least six weeks due to the 2M alliance's blanked sailings programme between Asia and Europe, the Loadstar reported.
The laying-up of the vessel follows the move last week by the carrier's parent to issue a profit warning due to an unexpected US$600 million shortfall in the container line's full-year profit forecast, which it blamed on a "significant drop in rates".
The cutback in services during the winter slack season will result in the total capacity of laid-up vessels breaching the 1 million TEU mark, the highest level since the financial crisis began, according to Alphaliner.
Its latest data shows 263 idled containerships, totalling 934,700 TEU and representing 4.7 per cent of the total global fleet. This includes 23 ships with a capacity of 7,500 TEU or more.
The laying-up of a Triple-E demonstrates how serious the oversupply situation has become on the tradelane, Alphaliner said, adding that carriers normally endeavour to keep their largest ships and most expensive assets active.
It suggests that, given the current market conditions affecting all trade sectors, Maersk was left with no choice but to consign the Triple-E to lay-up, the report said.
Maersk Line is understood to be working on further service cuts to its network to mitigate the collapse of freight rates on the Asia-Europe route, from which it derives 40 per cent of its business, and is expected to be announced ahead of its third-quarter results due out on November 6.
Maersk Group chief executive Nils Andersen has indicated during a recent analysts call to give a "more detailed" response to the dramatic downturn. He also confirmed that for surplus vessels there was no other option than to return ships to owners at the end of time charters, and for owned tonnage to enter lay-up in the interim.
The crisis plaguing container liner services has also hit the charter market very hard across all sizes of ships.
"Disillusion is besetting the charter market as more size segments are affected by the current slump in demand, while oversupply becomes a chronic ailment," said Alphaliner.
The long-suffering panamax market had witnessed a "substantial increase in the supply of spot tonnage" in recent weeks, against a background of receding demand, said the consultant.
Source : HKSG.