Inactive container shipping fleet hits all time of 11.6% of capacity

The inactive container shipping fleet has reached a high of 11.6% of the fleet in capacity terms at the end of May, according to analyst Alphaliner.

The idle containership fleet stood at 2.72m teu as of 25 May, or 11.6% of capacity, due to a combination of blank sailings to mitigate the impact of lower demand from the Covid-19 pandemic and vessels taken out of service for scrubber retrofits.

Some 571,858 teu, 64 vessels, of the inactive are currently undergoing scrubber retrofits meaning that the portion of fleet take out service to manage capacity has passed the 2m teu mark.

According to Alphaliner’s weekly newsletter the world’s two largest container lines – Maersk and MSC – account for the largest portion of the idle fleet with a combined total of 845,000 teu out of service. However, more than half this figure relates to vessels undergoing scrubber retrofits.

Alphaliner said it expected the inactive fleet to peak shortly as lockdowns in many countries start to ease and demand recovers. “There are encouraging signs that carriers have over-estimated the level of demand contraction in May, and capacity shortages on certain routes have already started to push spot freight rates up.”

China port container volumes return to normal in late May

During the last ten days period of May, the cargo throughput of major Chinese ports kept increasing and posted an increase of 0.9% year-on-year.

The overall container throughput and international container cargo volume of eight major Chinese ports increased 20% and 18% respectively comparing to middle May, resuming to around 98% and 96% of the volume in the same period of last year.

The crude oil shipments at major coastal ports increased 15.43% year-on-year. The iron ore shipments at major ports increased 6% compared year-on-year, among which the growth rate of Ningbo-Zhoushan port and Qingdao port exceeded 10%.

The port business along Yangtze river continued recovering in late May. The cargo throughput of three major ports, Nanjing, Wuhan and Chongqing, has reached the same level of last year’s while the container volume resumed to 98%.

THE Alliance to keep two Asia – Europe services merged in Q3

THE Alliance will continue to merge two Asia – North Europe loops in Q3, as it announces blank sailings and service suspensions across its network in July

THE Alliance, which comprises container lines, Hapag-Lloyd, HMM, Ocean Network Express (ONE), and Yang Ming, said its FE4 and FE2 loops would continue to remain merged until the end of September 2020. The FE2 service will continue a combined service with a backhaul via the Cape of Good Hope rather than the shorter route of the Suez Canal. Its FE3 service will be extended to cover Central China ports in Q3.

In July on the Asia – Med trade five sailings will be blanked and on the transpacific Asia – US West Coast some 11 sailings will be blanked. The PS5 service on the transpacific will remain suspended in July.

On the eastbound transpacific to the US East Coast the EC1 and EC3 services remain merged in July, but THE Aliance said this could change.

On the Asia – Middle East trade the AG1 service will remain merged into AG3 in July.

THE Alliance will also void two sailings on the Asia – India trade, and five on the transatlantic trade in July.

“THE Alliance will continue to closely monitor the latest market situation during the Covid-19 pandemic and provide updates on any necessary service changes. The affected services are expected to resume normal operations once market conditions improve,” the member lines said.

The Alliance announces COVID-19 response measures for July, August and September 2020

Changes impact several trades, but especially Asia – North Europe trade
In light of the extraordinary impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the members of THE Alliance will adjust the schedules for July, August and September for the Asia – North Europe trade and July for the remaining trades, in order to match market demand. The details of the blank sailings and network adjustments are listed below:
Asia and North Europe
FE4 will remain merged with FE2 until the end of September 2020.
FE2 will continue to run combined rotation with eastbound routing via Cape of Good Hope as follows:
Pusan – Shanghai – Ningbo – Yantian – Singapore – (Suez) – Rotterdam – Southampton – Le Havre – Hamburg – Rotterdam – (Cape of Good Hope) – Singapore – Pusan
FE3 will extend to cover direct calling at Central China ports from July to September as follows:
Ningbo – Shanghai – Xiamen – Kaohsiung – Hong Kong – Yantian – (Suez) – Rotterdam – Hamburg – Antwerp – London Gateway – (Suez) – Jebel Ali – Singapore – Yantian – Hong Kong – Kaohsiung – Ningbo
Asia and the Mediterranean
Week 28 – MD2, MD3 void
Week 29 – MD1 void
Week 31 – MD2, MD3 void
Transpacific – West Coast
Week 27 – PS3, PN3 and PN4 void
Week 28 – PS4 void
Week 29 – PS3, PN3 and PN4 void
Week 30 – PS4 void
Week 31 – PS3, PN3 and PN4 void
PS5 will continue to be suspended for weeks 27 to 31.
Transpacific – East Coast (via Panama and Suez canals)
EC3 will tentatively remain merged with EC1 in July, though this could change.
Asia and Middle East
AG1 will remain merged with AG3 in July under the current AG3 combined service rotation.
AG2 will maintain westbound direct calling at Xiamen in July.
Asia and India
Week 28 – PS3 (India sector) void
Week 30 – PS3 (India sector) void
Week 26 – AL1, AL4 void
Week 28 – AL1 void
Week 29 – AL4 void
Week 31 – AL1 void
THE Alliance will continue to closely monitor the latest market situation during the COVID-19 pandemic and provide updates on any necessary service changes. The affected services are expected to resume normal operations once market conditions improve. The members of THE Alliance would like to thank their respective customers for their kind understanding and continued support during these unprecedented times. Together, we will navigate the challenges and stand strong.  

Tti Sets North American Record For Highest Container Volume Handled On A Single Vessel
Total Terminals International (TTI) set a new record for the highest volume of container movements at Pier T in Long Beach on June 8. The arrival of the container ship MSC Sveva helped TTI achieve its highest volume ever on one vessel, with 17,080 containers handled – the equivalent of 30,744 TEU – which is the highest volume ever achieved in North America.
MSC Sveva was operated with 7 ship-to-shore cranes, handling at peak moments more than 250 containers per hour. The volume of 30,744 TEU achieved at TTI vastly exceeds similar records that were recently set in ports like Gdansk or Antwerp, whose records currently stand at 20,081 TEU and 13,405 TEU respectively.
This achievement is set in the context of a market that has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 situation, with import container volumes in the San Pedro bay decreasing almost 13% during the first quarter of 2020. 
Terminal operator TTI is not new to record setting. In May 2018, TTI broke the American productivity record when it handled 564 containers with a single crane in one shift. In April this year, TTI handled MSC Mia, one of the biggest container vessels in the world and the biggest to have ever called a U.S. port. With this week’s MSC Sveva call, TTI is again raising the bar for the container handling industry in the U.S. 
“We are motivated by the opportunity to service these mega-class vessels while continuing to provide the level of service our customers expect and deserve. It is exciting to see the commitment MSC has made in this market and TTI is committed to seamless operational execution for all of our supply chain partners,” said Dan Bergman, Vice President of Operations at TTI.
TTI is 80% owned by Terminal Investment Limited (TiL), a subsidiary of MSC Group, with the remaining 20% owned by Hyundai Merchant Marine CO.

MSC Extends Its Sot Programme Globally
As recently announced, MSC launched a “Suspension of Transit” (SOT) programme which uses some of the world’s leading transshipment hubs as advance storage posts to help shippers begin moving goods early in anticipation of a resumption in demand, in an efficient and cost-effective way.
The SOT programme is proving to be particularly useful for beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) and cargo consolidators, all of which are faced with congestion at ports of destination and the related possibility of high warehousing storage costs. This is due to ongoing disruptions related to COVID-19.
Initially focused on six strategic points to meet a recovery in demand for freight from Asia, MSC’s SOT initiative is now extended to more trade routes with the addition of extra transshipment hubs such as Freeport in Bahamas, Gioia Tauro in Italy, Klaipeda in Lithuania, and Las Palmas in Spain.
By turning this programme into a truly international proposition, MSC demonstrates its solid market position and its commitment to ensure both business continuity and high levels of customer service.
Building on its global presence, modern fleet and large-scale operations, MSC’s SOT programme is based around the world's largest hub network of its kind in the container shipping market.

(Source: The Maritime Executive, American Shipper, Seatrade Maritime)