The idle container fleet has dropped by 47 percent in the last three months as freight rates continue to increase, BIMCO said Thursday.
It said the idle fleet had dropped from just above 900,000 20-foot equivalent units in mid-March to around 480,000 TEUs by mid-June.
“As long as rates hold up well and slide only marginally, the idle fleet should continue to drop, as owners make services ready ahead of the peak season in August,” the association of ship-owners and brokers said in its latest Shipping Market Overview for the container industry.
Freight rates on the main routes have been going up markedly and consecutively in March, April, May and June, but in decreasing amounts.
Rate increases on the Asia-Europe trade amount to $1,100-1,300 per 20-foot-equivalent unit, and they have lifted rates from $536 per TEU just before Christmas to the current level of $1,634 per TEU, an increase of 205 percent, BIMCO said.
The increase in Asia-Europe rates has been enough to lift carriers back to profitability on that lane, BIMCO said last month.
The pace of ship scrapping, which accelerated in the first five months of the year could tail off a bit, as demolition prices have decreased recently.
New ship orders remain low, but BIMCO expects this to change, because shipyards are offering cheaper prices to fill their order books and to counter the drop of 16 percent on containership orders this year alone.
The Copenhagen-based association warned that the low prices for new ship orders may tempt owners looking to renew their fleets and replace older tonnage with new designs and fuel-efficient ships despite the overcapacity in the market.