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The global containership fleet has reached 29m teu last week as new vessel deliveries continued to enter the market at a brisk pace with close to 200,000 teu delivered over the past month compared to just 2,200 teu that was scrapped. Despite the rapid fleet growth, charter rates have continued to rise with carriers undeterred by the recent freight rate correction with several of them still eyeing market share growth. ONE’s new midterm plan reveals an aggressive growth plan to 2030 that can only be achieved by doubling their current orderbook, with other laggard carriers also expected to follow.

Carriers are planning April rate hikes after 2 unsuccessful attempts in March, with Asia-Europe freight futures rebounding by 10-25% last week. However,  capacity utilisation levels need to pick up quickly for the rate increase to stick with market conviction remaining muted.

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Carriers playing catch-up will further tilt supply-demand imbalance
ONE announced an aggressive midterm plan on 19 March to grow its operated fleet to 3m teu by 2030 which represents a 66% growth from its current fleet of 1.8m teu, at an annualised growth rate of 10% a year. The plan entails capital investments of $25 Bn and a further $10 Bn in associated assets over the next 5 years, which could also include the transfer of some of the assets from its 3 shareholders (NYK, MOL and K Line).

The move by ONE represents a belated attempt to regain market share, after successive years of sub-par growth. Since the formation of ONE was first announced in 2016, the consolidated Japanese carrier has grown its fleet by just 30% in the last 7 years compared to market growth of 40% over the same period. These attempts by straggling carriers to play catch-up would further worsen the supply-demand imbalance over the coming years, with the next moves by other laggards including Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd to be watched closely.

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