The new year brings with it fresh hopes for a recovery in container shipping although the market remains fundamentally imbalanced, says an Alphaliner report.
A slew of new records were set in 2016 but most of them marked new lows for a container shipping market that continues to suffer from excess capacity, with the weakness expected to persist for at least one more year.
The global containership fleet grew by only 1.5% to reach 20.27 Mteu at the end of 2016, the lowest annual growth rate ever recorded in the industry’s history.
Growth was kept low by the a record number of ships scrapped, with a total of 192 containership for 654,900 teu demolished in 2016. The total capacity of containerships deleted reached 200 units for 664,300 teu after adding a handful of de-celled ships and two casualties.
New containership deliveries fell to 934,500 teu in 2016, down 46% compared the year before. Very weak employment prospects prompted owners to delay the deliveries of some 60 ships with a total capacity of 400,000 teu, while 18 ships with a total capacity of 57,000 teu are believed to have been cancelled.
The low supply growth was, however, insufficient to prevent the idle containership fleet from soaring to a record high of 1.59 Mteu in October before ending the year at 1.42 Mteu. The surplus capacity overhang remains the industry’s biggest headache, especially with some 1.7 Mteu of new capacity due in 2017.