Over 200 container ships are reported to be lying idle at the start of the new year on account of falling cargo demand, plummeting freight rates, and fewer vessel hires
The US Journal of Commerce Online cited data released by Paris-based consulting firm AXS Alphaliner pegged 165 container ships totalling 430,000 TEUs as idle just before December 25, up from 300,000 TEUs two weeks earlier. The idle tonnage included six ships between 7,500 and 10,000 TEUs and 19 ranging from 5,000 to 7,500 TEUs. Estimates said that around 3.5 per cent of the world's fleet would be idle, highest since the 2002 slump. Reports quoted the agency as saying that the non-utilised tonnage included six ships of between 7,500 and 10,000 TEU, and 19 between 5,000 to 7,500 TEU.
Charter ship owners are said to be hardest hit by the industry downturn, accounting for 105 of the 165 idle vessels.
Other reports said the fall in container throughput in various ports during the last quarter is estimated at around 30 per cent, which has made shipping line streamline sailing schedules, consolidating services, look at vessel sharing, and enhancing port productivity.
On the domestic scenario, where around 6,000 containers are generally pending at the Jawaharlal Nehru port (JNPT) at this time of the year, every year, it is down to around 2,000 TEUs presently, reports said. Reflecting the same trend, the reports said that at Tughlakabad ICD, levels have fallen from 2,000 TEUs to around 500 TEUs.
Going by reports, the forecast for the world shipping industry predicts another 200 box ships to be laid up soon on the back of falling cargo demand, plunging freight rates and vessel hires and a flood of tonnage on major trade lanes.