The container shipping industry has seen a major change since the summer of 2016. In 2017, new shipping alliances began to mobilize. The 2M Alliance (plus HMM), THE Alliance, and the Ocean Alliance are well-established. Cosco and CSCL have merged into one liner, Zim has shrunk to regional carrier status, and three Japanese lines merged into the Ocean Network Express (ONE).
OOCL saw a huge improvement on its Asia-Europe lanes. Q3 TEU movements increased 25%, and revenue rose 26.1%. YTD revenue is up 19%. Maersk Line reported a Q3 2017 net profit of $220 million, compared with a loss of $122 million in Q3 2016. Yang Ming Line reported a profit for the first time in 2 ½ years (ten quarters) as they announced a Q3 2017 profit of U.S. $ 42 million. Also, APM Terminals’ shipping container volume increased 6.5% YTD.
Although container rates are lower than in previous years, if you consider the industry’s overall trend, shipping lines are going into the year’s end much healthier than they were a year ago. This holds true for both short and long-term shipping markets. The combination of rising TEU volumes, higher container rates, and cost-reduction programs are starting to show results. Also adding to the industry’s upbeat performance is the absence of rate volatility on all the major trade lanes.