An unprecedented collapse in container freight rates over the last year presents boxship owners and operators with a severe challenge after the pandemic boom.

Plummeting US demand and the release of capacity caught up in Covid-linked congestion has left the market in free fall, with limited optimism that it will level out, a veteran analyst said.

“I have never seen a collapse in container demand like the one in the US in the last year,” said Tim Power, managing director of Drewry, the research consultancy.