Far East-U.S. Containers Fall for Second Year.
Container shipments from the Far East to the United States declined by 15.3 percent in 2009 from the previous year to 10.1 million 20-foot equivalent units, down 2.8 million TEUs from their peak of 12.9 million TEUs in 2007. The decline in 2009 traffic, following a 7.9 percent drop in 2008, is equivalent to a weekly reduction of 55,000 TEUs since 2007, according to Alphaliner, the Paris-based container shipping consultancy.
Alphaliner has recorded a net reduction of 16 "strings" on the trans-Pacific route since the mid-2008 peak when there were 70 weekly strings linking the Far East to the U.S. East or West Coast.
Carriers are now operating 54 strings with total capacity down 20 percent.
All major carriers have trimmed operating capacity over the past 18 months, but there have been shifts in market shares and some lines have added capacity during the period.
The CKYH Alliance, the New World Alliance, China's CSCL and Zim, the Israeli carrier, have boosted capacity -- and market share -- on the trans-Pacific since March 2009, according to Alphaliner.
Maersk, Evergreen, CMA CGM and the Grand Alliance are among the carriers that have reduced capacity over the past year.
Some extra capacity is still in the pipeline, including The Containership Company, the recently established carrier which plans to launch a U.S. West Coast-China service in April with five chartered vessels.