According to Alphaliner, after a persistent downward trend in the first half of the year, the global inactive container ship fleet showed signs of stability during the first half of September. While slight fluctuations occurred in the months of June, July, August, and September, the overall picture remains one of relative equilibrium.
Over the past fortnight, a marginal increase in carrier-controlled idle tonnage was balanced by a decrease in non-operating-owner controlled idle tonnage and a decline in the count of vessels undergoing drydock maintenance. This period of steadiness, however, is expected to face challenges in the weeks ahead.
Carriers are bracing for the impact of the upcoming Chinese Golden Week holidays, which are anticipated to usher in a demand lull in early October. These holidays traditionally mark the beginning of a slack period in liner shipping, which is expected to extend through the entirety of Q4 and into Q1.
According to the latest survey conducted by Alphaliner on September 11, there were a total of 250 inactive ships, accounting for 908,034 TEU (Twenty-foot Equivalent Units). This represented a modest increase of just one ship and a slight capacity uptick of 18,866 TEU.
The proportion of vessel inactivity in relation to the cellular fleet remained unchanged at 3.3%. This figure had experienced a notable decline from March to May but has since stabilized slightly above the 3% mark.
Of these inactive vessels, a significant 72% were in drydock, comprising the largest portion of the inactive fleet. In comparison to the previous survey, Alphaliner noted an increase of seven ships in repair yards, although there was a slight drop in capacity to 649,411 TEU.
Within the segment of commercially idle ships, carrier-controlled tonnage saw an increase of 44,901 TEU, reaching a total capacity of 214,100 TEU. The number of these ships, however, remained unchanged at 53 units.
Conversely, non-operating-owner controlled idle tonnage witnessed a reduction of six ships and 24,175 TEU, settling at 27 ships and 44,623 TEU. This segment now accounts for 17% of all idle tonnage, a notable decline from the 29% recorded in the previous survey.
While the first half of September brought stability to the global inactive container ship fleet, the looming challenges posed by the Chinese Golden Week holidays and the onset of the traditional slack period emphasize the need for carriers to remain vigilant in adapting to dynamic market conditions. The industry will be closely monitoring these developments in the weeks to come.