Carriers rerouting capacity to more profitable Trans Pacific trade

Tight capacity and limited equipment availability amid a spike in consumer demand saw rates published on the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) leap $447 per teu to $2,091, up 27% in the space of a week. Asia – Mediterranean rates also shot up, climbing by $421 or 23% this week to $2,219 per teu.

Buoyant weekly figures were also published for most tradelanes today – Asia to West Africa rallying by $300 to $4,459 per teu, while trips from Asia to the east coast of Latin America shot up by $402 to hit $4,805 per teu.

Transpacific rates, meanwhile, were flat for the week, but still remain at record highs however. Recent data published by consultancy Sea-Intelligence shows liners are on track to increase capacity year-on-year on the transpacific by 27.3% in December.

On Asia-Europe however, the carriers’ deployment plans indicate a capacity growth of 6.7% year-on-year. Plenty of ships have been rerouted to the far more profitable transpacific in recent months.

Freight rates reaching out to historical highs on all trade lanes

“As carriers prioritise containers on the transpacific, some are shifting ex-Asia capacity from Europe to the US,” commented Eytan Buchman from online box booking platform Freightos in a note to clients earlier this week.

“The equipment shortage and port congestion in the US and UK is leading to pain for shippers, with reports of bookings being rejected for lack of empties, containers being offloaded at alternative ports, and shippers delaying bookings until things quiet down,” Buchman added.

The record rates environment in recent months has prompted many governments to intervene. Splash reported this week on the Federal Maritime Commission’s (FMC) expanded probe into liner activity, while India, China and South Korea are also advising liners to rein in their sky high charges.

“I am sure that we will hear more noise now from the European Shippers’ Council, and potentially investigations in the EU similar to what the FMC, China and Korea have been doing,” commented Andy Lane, a container expert at CTI Consultancy in Singapore.