With combined earnings of ten major carriers approaching USD 75 billion in the first half of 2022, and doubtlessly more when including those carriers that do not report their financials, containership operators have clearly hit jackpot. For decades, grandfathers will tell their grandchildren about these “special times”. The end of this remarkable boom, however, seems in sight. Freight rates are declining, and newbuilding orders have reduced substantially. As an example of the cooling market, newcomer DKT Allseas, sailing the along the Europe-Far East route, has returned a ship that it chartered only few months ago prematurely to its owner, presumably due to a lack of cargo.
Trade volumes for the first seven months of 2022, are 1.4% lower than in the same period of 2021, although in the month of July seaborne container trade was 0.6% larger than in the corresponding month of last year. Although there is still substantial congestion, complemented with strikes in several ports, leading to substantial delays, the container market appears be cooling down. There are different opinions on how long and how deep the decline will be, but presumably nobody expects the “happy days” to return, at least not in the form we have experienced them in the last two years.