Drewry Shipping Consultants is forecasting average ocean freight rates on major east-west trade lanes will decline 7 percent this year as large ocean carriers once again gear up for a fight for market share.
In its latest quarterly Container Forecaster, the London-based consulting firm said carrier profitability will fall back to around $8bn following an estimated $13bn in profits last year, "although this could be considerably lower if carriers' pricing and capacity discipline weakens further."
Ocean carrier profits rebounded strongly in 2010 thanks to careful management of vessel capacity, but Drewry warned this discipline appears to be waning.
The Drewry report estimates the global container fleet will grow 8.5 percent in 2011, with much of the gain coming from ships with more than 8,000 TEUs.
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