In the initial weeks of 2024, the global shipping industry has witnessed a significant surge in the delivery of new container tonnage, setting the tone for the year ahead. As of January 22, shipping lines have welcomed an impressive 204,000 TEU (twenty-foot equivalent units) of new capacity from shipyards.
Notably, more than one container ship per day has been added to the global liner fleet during this period, focusing solely on ‘pure’ container ships, excluding conros, roros, or container-friendly multipurpose vessels.
According to industry reports, the lion’s share of these new deliveries has gone to Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC), which has received approximately 72,000 TEU, constituting 35.4% of the total new capacity. Following MSC, Maersk Group secured 17.8%, COSCO Group 15.4%, and CMA CGM Group 13.9% of the new capacity, claiming the second to fourth positions.
Analysts predict that 2024 is poised to witness an unprecedented record in container ship capacity, with an estimated 3.00 million TEU, equivalent to 460 ships, joining the global fleet. A noteworthy aspect is that about one-third of this new capacity, totaling 0.93 million TEU and 95 vessels, will be powered by alternative fuels such as LNG and Methanol.
This year’s projected capacity influx surpasses the 2023 record of approximately 2.35 million TEU. Despite concerns about potential chronic vessel overcapacity, the market has demonstrated resilience in absorbing this substantial increase in tonnage.
Contributing factors to the market’s adaptability include additional slow-steaming, prompted by the implementation of the Carbon Intensity Indicator (CII) in 2023, the initiation of the European Emission Trading Scheme (ETS) in 2024, draught adjustments in the Panama Canal, and vessel diversions from the Red Sea to the Cape of Good Hope.
MSC’s strategic timing in receiving neo-panamax ships consecutively has allowed the carrier to maintain weekly operations on its East-West services, despite longer steaming times via the Cape route.
However, concerns loom regarding the potential challenges later in the year if freight markets slow down and if diversions cease, leading ships to revert to their regular routes.
Industry experts are closely monitoring the evolving dynamics, recognizing the need for continued adaptation to navigate the complexities of the global container shipping landscape in 2024.
Source: Alphaliner, MSC