Global container trade faces sharpest contraction in history

Hamburg-based Hapag-Lloyd has put its 23,000 teu newbuild plans on ice as the liner faces up to the realities of plummeting demand for container transport thanks to the coronavirus.

Hapag-Lloyd had widely been tipped earlier this year to join MSC, CMA CGM and HMM in ordering six giant boxships but CEO Rolf Habben Jansen has now put the order rumours on the back burner telling local logistics title DVZ that the plans are on hold.

“We will need the big ships sooner or later, but no one should expect such an order in the coming weeks,” Habben Jansen told DVZ.

Hapag-Lloyd is the world’s fifth largest liner with 1.7m slots in its fleet. Currently it has zero ships on order.

This year is now expected to see the sharpest contraction in global seaborne container trade on record according to the world’s largest broker, Clarksons Platou, who issued a sobering box report last Friday.

The massive volume of blanked sailings announced in recent weeks is set to create new records in terms of the inactive containership fleet, which analysts at Alphaliner are now saying will breach the 3m teu mark for the first time meaning some 13% of the entire global box fleet will be out of work.

Habben Jansen said in the interview with DVZ that he expects blanked sailings by his company and other members of THE Alliance to continue into the third quarter.