Changes in vessel-sharing alliance pushes up containership charter rates

  Apr 14--DEMAND for tonnage in the containership chartering market has recently been very strong, with the exception of ships below 1,700 TEU, and as a result daily hire rates have been rising dramatically.

  The rebound is attributed to a frenzied spate of containership chartering ahead of the reshuffle of vessel-sharing alliance groupings.

  However, there is still a "question mark on the sustainability of the current market revival," according to Alphaliner, reported The Loadstar.

  By sector, Alphaliner reported that tonnage of 2,700-3,800 TEU is in short supply while overcapacity in the 2,000-2,700 TEU size is also declining. Furthermore, 4,000-5,000 TEU panamax ships are back in demand. One broker told The Loadstar rates had "almost doubled" in the past month to around US$8,000 per day.

  Container shipping lines have been especially active in the 7,500-11,000 TEU sector, with any available tonnage being quickly seized by desperate carriers.

  One broker told The Loadstar some charterers were prepared to "fix at any price" to cover the empty slots in their schedules after the alliance changes.

  The biggest ever alliance reshuffling has caused significant headaches for container line operations in phasing ships and equipment out of one grouping and into another. In many situations home ports are also changing for carriers, requiring stocks of empty equipment and frustrated shipments from previous sailings to be relayed, either by chartered-in tonnage or by commercial feeder.

  Several shippers have complained to The Loadstar that the schedules advertised by carriers are incorrect, as many of the advertised vessels have been, or are being, taken out of service.

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