Revenue of the biggest ocean container carriers plunged by 35 percent overall in the first quarter of the year compared with the same period in 2008 in what is shaping up to be the worst year in modern liner shipping history.
The total revenue of eleven of the top twenty carriers that reported results for their liner shipping operations fell to $14.45 billion in the first three months of 2009 from $22.4 billion a year ago, according to Alphaliner, the Paris-based container shipping consultancy.
All of the eleven carriers, which control around 45 percent of global container capacity deployed, were hit by tumbling cargo volume and freight rates, with an average twenty percent drop in traffic and a 15 percent decline in rates.
Of the eleven carriers surveyed, the two Chinese lines, CSCL and COSCON, suffered the steepest falls in dollar revenue, down 56 percent and 53 percent respectively.
Maersk Line, the world's biggest ocean carrier, performed best, with revenue down 28 percent in the quarter, followed by OOCL at 31 percent. Zim's revenue was off 40 percent; APL’s by 36 percent and Hapag-Lloyd’s revenue was 33 percent lower.
London-based Drewry Shipping Consultants forecasts the container shipping industry will lose a combined $20 billion before interest and tax in 2009, compared with a $5 billion profit in 2008.
Drewry expects world ocean container volume to contract by 10.3 percent this year compared with 2008, nearly double its previous estimate of 5.7 percent just three months ago.
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