Among container Carriers, Maersk Line currently has the largest number of vessels idle.
A report by shipping analyst Alphaliner (Vol. 2012, Issue 46) reveals Maersk Line as the carrier with most vessels idled, currently 14 units with an aggregate capacity of 94,000 TEU.
This development spearheads a recent surge in idling across the industry. “The idle containership fleet of above 500 TEU have swelled by 96,000 TEU in the last fortnight to reach 762,000 TEU or 4.7% of the current cellular fleet as at 5 November,” states the newsletter.
“24 units of above 5,000 TEU are currently idle,” says Alphaliner, “compared to only two such units in early September.” The share of idle fleet for shipping companies has increased to 35%, compared to only 15% in September, states the report.
Erik Rabjerg Nielsen, Maersk Line’s Head of Scheduling and Deployment, explains that “the primary reason for the latest surge in idling is the removal of the AE9 service from the Far East to Europe, currently on hold until at least the end of November. 10 vessels have been pushed out from here.”
“We are continuously managing our capacity to meet market demands,” he says. “Especially on Asia-Europe we are adjusting down to ensure that we have a cost-efficient network which enables us to serve our customers in a competitive manner.”
This echoes comments made by A.P. Moller - Maersk Group CEO Niels Smedegard Andersen in connection with the third quarter financial results.
“If you can’t fill your vessels, of couse it is better to reduce your capacity. At least you save the cost. It is much better than going out in rate decreases,” he said on 9 November. “We have pulled quite a bit of market capacity out, so we definitely feel that we have done our share, having seen good results from it and now we expect others to behave responsibly as well.”
In the toolbox for capacity management are several options for handling redundant vessels, Erik explains. “We can keep them om standby if we want to be able to deploy them again quickly. We can return leased vessels to their owners; we have done this for 71 vessels during the last few months. We can re-let them to other carriers who have needs for them. And finally we can idle vessels, realising substantial cost savings on daily running expenses.”