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  • Writer's pictureStephen Fodor

Ocean liner capacity control and the future of container shipping

(Freightwaves) The world’s container liner business is now so consolidated that it can deftly match vessel capacity to cargo demand. This change — courtesy of mergers and alliances — is structural, not cyclical. If there’s a single thesis for container shipping in 2020, that is it.

Assuming it’s true, there could be major future implications for the cargo shippers, yards, box-equipment owners and ship lessors who do business with liners.

If liners can indefinitely calibrate capacity to cargo demand, the future newbuilding orderbook should be far less of a threat to liner profits and far less of a savior for shippers.

If liners can keep managing capacity like they did this year, they may not need to lease as many containers or ships as they do now. Over the long term, it’s cheaper to own than rent.

To better understand the future implications, American Shipper interviewed Paul Bingham, director of transportation consulting at IHS Markit (NYSE: INFO); Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence; and Stefan Verberckmoes, shipping analyst and Europe editor at Alphaliner.

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