Transpacific carriers claim that rate hikes planned for this year will be justified by growing cargo demand, while late vessel deliveries and equipment shortages could temper predicted capacity increases.
Representing leading carriers operating on Asia-US trades, the Transpacific Stabilisation Agreement (TSA) said cargo demand would continue to improve during 2011, as the US economy recovered, and this growth would absorb most new capacity entering the market.
“With a traditional third-quarter peak season now considered likely, container lines in the TSA say that additional ships now being delivered will, ultimately, be needed and well-utilised,” said the association.
TSA Executive Administrator Brian Conrad predicted that container equipment could be in short supply in the summer, placing constraints on capacity across carrier networks.
“We expect overall 2011 load factors to remain quite strong,” said Conrad. “Even if there prove to be dips in utilisation levels during certain periods, the experience of early 2010 is still relatively fresh in carriers’ minds.
“Each carrier faces clearly defined costs in shoreside labour, equipment, inland transportation, debt service, documentation and so on. Knowing those costs, managing them effectively and keeping rates at compensatory levels will be critical to any carrier’s long-term competitive position in this trade.”